METEORIC. A word that describes The Beatles’ rise from their humble beginnings in Liverpool’s Cavern Club to world domination, and a legacy that continues to attract new fans some 51 years after John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr scored their first UK No1 with From Me to You.
At the Playhouse, all this week, there’s a chance to slip back in time to the swingin’ sixties to join the Fab Four as their story is retold in the smash hit West End musical Let It Be.
Already seen by more than 700,000 people worldwide, Let It Be boasts more than 40 of The Beatles’ best loved tracks, including Twist and Shout, She Loves You and Drive My Car, as well as chart toppers such as Yesterday, Hey Jude, Come Together and, of course, Let It Be.
Other hits to feature are I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Hard Day’s Night, Day Tripper, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Strawberry Fields and The Long and Winding Road, which just happens to be James Fox’s favourite Beatles song.
Fox, who first won the public’s hearts on the BBC talent search Fame Academy, before going on to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004, plays Paul McCartney in the production.
“It was a big decision to do Fame Academy. I was 26 at the time and had already been working as a musician since I was 15. A lot of people in the business looked down on it, but I saw it as a way of learning and taking my career further,” explains the Cardiff-born singer, recalling how his career took off.
That decision certainly paid dividends, opening doors for Fox. A year later he found himself representing the UK at Eurovision, in Istanbul, Turkey.
“I did okay in comparison with some of the more recent entries,” he laughs. “I was sixteenth. It wasn’t a great song but I absolutely loved doing it and keep asking them to let me do it again.”
Fox, whose debut single Hold On To Our Love reached No 13 in the UK singles chart, is no stranger to musical theatre either, having played Judas in the UK tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, as well as winning his dream role as the Piano Man on Broadway, in the Billy Joel musical Movin’ Out. He last appeared at the Playhouse in Chess, in 2010.
Fox describes Let It Be as the “Greatest Hits” concert The Beatles never did because they stopped playing live in the 1960s.
“I’ve been playing Paul McCartney for two years now and although I am too young to remember The Beatles, as a musician I have always been aware of them. Growing up there were very few bands I liked who weren’t, in some way, influenced by them.”
From their origins in the Cavern Club, the show follows the band’s timeline through their various incarnations. Multimedia footage allows the cast to appear to perform at Shea Stadium and on the roof of the Apple Records building.
As the show hits their Sgt Pepper period, there’s a plethora of wigs and costume changes, six in total, to help with the transition from the early clean cut look to their psychedelic hippy phase.
At the Playhouse this week, it seems, all you need is love, costumes, wigs and a little help from your friends... oh, and a ticket, naturally.
Let It Be, Playhouse, Greenside Place, until Saturday, 7.30pm (matinees 2.30pm), £10-£42.40, 0844-871 3014.