Just managed to get over to see it from Guernsey, it was fabulous. I have sat through a well known London show and left half way through. It was sad, nostalgic, funny and historical.
I hope it tours the UK - Lorraine
16 Feb 12
After hearing so much about this play I found it Ok. Very nostalgic as I was a teenager in the Beatles era and loved all their songs, so nostalgic and interesting story of their pre Ringo days but I found it in parts a bit slow. All the cast were very good, specially Nick Blood and Andrew Knott. - Joe Spiteri
12 Jan 12
This incredible show ends its run in mid Feb - quite unbelievably! The skill of particularly Nick Blood as the 5th Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe, graphically interpreting a tragic, manic, creative character is outstanding, moving, utterly credible fusing the audience with him through crisis to joyous exuberance and back to crisis. Hamburg's seedy clubs in 1960 alongside Lennon, McCartney, Starr and Harrison, their music intermittently taking centre stage between dramatic scenes of scorn, satire, disbelief/thrill at meeting George Martin and Brian Epstein in the era of 1960s free love leading to true love when Sutcliffe and Astrid played beautifully by Ruta Gedmintas achieve true Romeo and Juliet tragedy is a show not to miss. Let's hope it will tour. - Sandra Dudley
05 Jan 12
Absolutely blistering portrayal of the early Beatles cutting their rock n roll teeth and losing their innocence in Hamburg. Superb staging, excellent characerisation and phenomenal playing and singing! It takes a few liberties with the facts ( McCartney is right handed here!) but this is a triumphant production with a very talented young ensemble! Love it and live it again!! - Tim Armitage
14 Dec 11
Fantastic, I went to see this show on Saturday, I had my heart thumping with the raw emotion of the music, I had a tear rolling down my cheek and I was dancing in the aisles - Val Collier
27 Nov 11
I thought this was great show, it's more than just a jukebox musical. Entertaining from the outset, tells a story, nicely moving from scene to scene, lots of great music (played live), moving at times, harsh at times, felt very real. And great rousing party atmosphere to leave :-) Up there in my top shows of the year, and I've seen a few. - Julia
15 Nov 11
I cant wait to see the play, but i really hope it does not have the fabricated scene that is in the film version which depicts a drunken Stuart beating up Klaus in a flury of jealousy. I was exceptionally blessed and fortunate to have had email contact with Klaus Voorman regarding that scene in the film, and Klaus vehemently stated how much he disliked that fight scene, and that the fight scene was entirely a fabrication and a false depiction of Stuart, and of his relationship with Klaus. I would love to know from anyone who has seen the play if that scene is in the play also.
I truly hope it is not, because that scene took too many liberties and was entirely untrue. - Ursula
24 Oct 11
When you watch X-Factor on the weekend, remember there was once a time when pop groups learned their craft by hard slog and trial & error. The Beatles would never have been the greatest band the world has ever seen if they hadnít spent the best part of two years playing lengthy sets in the Cavern in Liverpool and in much seedier clubs in Hamburg.
What Backbeat does by focusing on this brief but intense and important period is show us how it all began. The fact that it uses young actors who have recently learnt, and are still learning, to sing and play gives it an authenticity which brings the story alive. Itís not a musical; itís a play Ė but the musical sequences are crucial and become increasingly competent and exciting as the story develops. Theyíd sound a lot better played by professional musicians, but that would miss the point and be a lot less true to the story. I loved the rawness and raggedness of the music because it felt so real.
In this period, of course, original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe looms large. Lennonís art school mate who canít play a note but is super-cool joins the band, falls for photographer Astrid Kirchherr & steals her from fellow artist Klaus Voorman, leaves the band for Hamburg Art School (under Edward Paolozzi no less Ė even this Beatles obsessive didnít know that!) and dies tragically. Paul switches to bass and Pete Best is dumped for Ringo and the rest is history. When they put on Astridís jackets and strike the first chords of Love Me Do, there was a shiver up my spine and a tear in my eye. This is where the musical soundtrack of my life really began.
It really does tell the story well. Comparisons with Jersey Boys are unfair - this is not a biographical retrospective on a spectacular scale with a bandís entire back catalogue; itís a play focusing in more depth on a short formative period. Both are great, but completely different.
They actors donít impersonate the fab four (five) but they brilliantly convey the essence if the people. Andrew Knott has Lennonís attitude, power and influence and Daniel Healyís McCartney is the more serious, and seriously ambitious, musician (with spot-on nodding!). Will Payne captures the much younger George, quietly in awe of the others, growing up before your eyes. Thereís less pressure on Oliver Bennett as Pete Best and Nick Blood as Sutcliffe as we know less of their characters, but theyíre both excellent. Adam Soppís Ringo only arrives in the final scene, but his inimitable grin made me smile.
There isnít a moment wasted in David Leveauxís staging and the design team of Christopher Oram, Andrew D Edwards, Howard Harrison, David Holmes, Timothy Bird and Nina Dunn have created an environment which allows a fluid flow from scene to scene and location to location.
I loved this show, and I donít think thatís entirely because of how much The Beatles meant to me. Itís a great story well told. They donít even get to use that extraordinary back catalogue - we never get beyond Love Me Do Ė yet you can hear the beginnings of that sound that has not been equalled in the fifty years that have passed since. Give X-Factor a miss and find out how real talent develops. - Gareth James
19 Oct 11
After having read some of the critics reviews I was wondering if I had done the right thing in buying a ticket for a friend's birthday present - he is a true Beatles conoisseur! I am pleased to say "How could they be so wrong?" Finely staged and acted with good musical performances, it was amusing, moving and informative.
I suppose the difficulty will be in the marketing - people will come to see it (and I hope they do) with different expectations as to what they are going to see. - Aphro
19 Oct 11
I saw this last week,
I thought the cast were so talented, The staging was fantastic and really liked the projections with Astrid Ketchers photograghs,
Loved the rock n roll songs and Love Me Do at the end, I felt I was witnessing the birth of The Beatles, A great night out - Linda Grenfell
13 Oct 11
I was privileged to attend the opening night of 'Backbeat'. This was the most enjoyable two hours of West End theatre I have ever sat (or danced) through. If you want to know what the Beatles were like before fame and fortune this is the closest you are ever going to get. When the group opened up with 'Johnny B. Goode' I felt as if i'd been punched in the chest by a hurricane. A powerhouse of raw and primal rock Ďn roll. As Roy Carr once said of the Hamburg Pre-Fab five: "The bum notes fly like beer bottles". If you are expecting 'Hey Jude' you are missing the point. The story is the bond between John Lennon and his art school friend Stuart Sutcliffe which is in danger of being broken when Stuart falls for the lovely Astrid.(Andrew Knott, Nick Blood and Ruta Gedmintas). This leaves Paul McCartney as the driving force of the group who is trying to drag Lennon back to the fold. Great performances all round but special mention must go to Daniel Healy as Paul McCartney with stunning vocals, musicianship and characterization. The imaginative sets really evoke the spirit of the period. As do the terrific costumes. The highlight of the play for me was the 'love me do scene with Lennon & McCartney. Poignant and hilarious and is the moment when John realises where his destiny lies. Dramatic license? Who cares! A 5* Must See!! - John Ormond
12 Oct 11
I went with 4 female relatives raging in ages from early 20s to late 50s. All enjoyed the show immensely. The entire audience were on their feet dancing at the end. We went on spec to this show and felt we had witnessed the next big thing for the West End. - Carol Smith
11 Oct 11
A rousing authentic-feeling telling of the story of Stu Sutcliffe and the founding of the Beatles. It feels authentic because the triangular central relationships (John-Stu-Astrid) feel emotionally true, and because the instruments, setting (we even see some of the films playing on the cinema screen the boys are forced to live behind in Hamburg), photographs, etc, all seems bang on. Andrew Knott is caustic, charismatic and funny as John Lennon. Ruta Gedmintas portrays the basic human decency and stylishness of Astrid Kirchherr. But it is Nick Blood's sensitive enigmatic flawless performance of Stuart Sutcliffe that makes this production great. I hope he's nominated for an Olivier. I didn't catch him acting once. It just seemed like he WAS Stu Sutcliffe, from his effortless cool playing the bass guitar on stage, to his fearfulness courting Astrid, a foot tapping like a hummingbird's wings belying the surface cool, to his struggle in being torn apart by the different worlds he inhabited. There are a few story-telling liberties taken (such as John presenting Stu with his bass guitar before Stu earned the money to pay for it by selling his painting), but nothing that really matters. The action flows off the edge of the stage into the stalls, engaging the audience further in the action. The music is very loud, as it would authentically have been in a basement type club, but as much as I liked this fact, some theatregoers did not like the volume, and moved to free seats at the back of the stalls, in the interval, to escape the volume in the central stalls. In his smaller speaking part (he gets to sing a lot), Daniel Healy perfectly captures Paul McCartney's mannerisms and way of speaking, as well as his way of bobbing his head from side to side on stage. Although I felt certain aspects of Stuart Sutcliffe's passions were sidelined (such as his art, which is featured in a minor way, the production focusing to a greater extent on Astrid's photographs), this is as good as I have ever seen biography done in theatre. The singing brilliantly captures early Beatles, and the final sing-song resurrects Stu Sutcliffe on stage for one final celebration of his short and special life. A wonderful production. - Steve
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