Set during ‘the Hamburg Years’ in the early 1960s before the band became successful and world famous, Backbeat centres on the triangular relationship between Stuart Sutcliffe, the band’s original bassist and an accomplished painter, his best friend John Lennon, and Astrid Kirchherr, the beatnik German photographer who Sutcliffe fell in love with. Struggling with his various loyalties, Sutcliffe eventually chose Astrid and art over the Beatles and music.
Sutcliffe handed over his guitar to Paul McCartney just before Beatlemania took off. Shortly after leaving the band, he died in Hamburg, at the age of just 22, of a brain haemorrhage. His portrait featured on the Beatles’ album cover for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The film of Backbeat, also co-written and directed by Softley, starred Stephen Dorff as Sutcliffe, Sheryl Lee as Astrid Kirchherr and Ian Hart. On stage, Alex Robertson and Isabella Calthorpe will star as Sutcliffe and Kirchherr, with Andrew Knott as Lennon.
The company will also feature: Daniel Healy (as Paul McCartney), Jamie Blackley (George Harrison) and Oliver Bennett (Pete Best), as well as Kate Hodgson and Patrick Lannigan. The stage play is co-written by Stephen Jeffreys and produced by Karl Sydow.