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Blood, Knott & Gedmintas Cast in West End Backbeat

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Casting has today (2 September 2011) been announced for the West End production of Backbeat - Iain Softley's stage adaptation of his award-winning 1994 British film about the early years of the Beatles.

The stage play, which opens at the Duke of York's Theatre on 10 October (previews from 24 September 2011) and is directed in the West End by David Leveaux, received its world premiere at Glasgow Citizens Theatre in February 2010. A number of the original Glasgow cast join the play for its West End run.

Nick Blood, whose stage credits include Women Beware Women at the National Theatre and who has appeared on Trollied, Material Girl and The Bill will play the Beatles’ original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe.

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 relationship with best friend John Lennon and the German photographer Astrid Kirchherr, forms the central plot to the Backbeat story.

Manchester-born Andrew Knott will plays John Lennon, reprising his role from the Glasgow Citizens production. As well as being one of the original The History Boys, both at the National Theatre and on film, Knott's television credits include Spooks, Gavin and Stacey, Life on Mars and Coronation Street. He also appeared in last year’s Ian Dury biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll.

Familiar to fans of Sky Atlantic’s The Borgias and BBC drama The Tudors, Ruta Gedmintas plays photographer Astrid Kirchherr.

Daniel Healy, a Glasgow-born singer songwriter, also reprises his Glasgow performance as Paul McCartney. Healy's acting credits include Daddy's Girl, Taggart, Chewin’ the Fat, The Karen Dunbar Show and Irvine Welsh film Wedding Belles.

Recent RADA graduates William Payne and Oliver Bennett take on the role of George Harrison and Pete Best respectively. Payne's TV credits include The Tudors and Summer in Transylvania. He has also been seen on stage in The Hotel Play at the Royal Court. Bennett portrays original Beatles drummer, Pete Best. His stage credits include Avocado, To the End of the World and Abigail’s Party since graduating. He joins the company having played Pete Best in the Glasgow production.

Other casting announced today includes Adam Sopp (Tony Sheridan/Ringo Starr), Dominic Rouse (Klaus Voorman), Ben Fox (Arthur Ballard/Bert Kaempfert) and James Wallace (Sir George Martin).

Backbeat includes live onstage performances of various songs the Beatles 'cut their teeth with', including "Twist & Shout", "Rock & Roll Music", "Long Tall Sally", "Please Mr Postman" and "Money".

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.

Backbeat is co-written by Stephen Jeffreys, with musical direction by Paul Stacey, lighting by Howard Harrison and David Holmes, projection by Timothy Bird and Nina Dunn for Knifedge, movement by Nikki Woollaston, fights by Renny Krupinski and music supervised by Paul Stacey. It’s produced by Karl Sydow.


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