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WOS Radio: Theatregoers Come Together at Backbeat Q&A

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Last night (19 October 2011) Whatsonstage.com theatregoers enjoyed the West End premiere of Beatles-based musical Backbeat adapted for the stage by Iain Softley who wrote and directed the 1994 film of the same name.

This production is bought to the stage by producer Karl Sydow who joined us after the show as part of our Year of the Producer series for a really insightful Q&A.

Telling the story of how The Beatles 'became' The Beatles, Backbeat charts the path of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe from the docks of Liverpool to the seedy red light district of Hamburg where they worked eight days a week, in the clubs of the tawdry Reeperbahn, performing rock 'n' roll covers night after night.

Propelling the story forward is the compelling triangular relationship between the band's original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, the striking German photographer Astrid Kirchherr whom he fell in love with, and his best friend John Lennon. Stuart's struggle between his best friend and the band; Astrid and his art, makes Stuart the troubled focus of Backbeat. His death, aged only 22, in the same year that the Beatles appointed Brian Epstein as manager, signed to Parlophone Records by Sir George Martin, and released their first single "Love Me Do", adds to the poignancy of this remarkable and vivid portrait of the early 1960's.

Following the show we were joined not only by Sydow but by all five Beatles - Andrew Knott (John Lennon), Daniel Healy (Paul McCartney), William Payne (George Harrison) and Nick Blood (Stuart Sutcliffe) - and Ruta Gedmintas (Astrid Kirchherras) as well as director David Leveaux and music supervisor Paul Stacey.

With so many different elements of the production represented we learnt a little of everything, from why Sydow wanted to produce this show, to Leveaux's guiding word for the production ("courage") as well as just how hard it is to play such iconic characters and how supportive Sutcliffe's sister and the real Kircherras have been throughout the project.

To listen to an edited recording of the Q&A, which was chaired by Whatsonstage.com Managing and Editorial Director Terri Paddock, click the 'play' button below; or to subscribe and download from iTunes, click here.

For more photos and commentary from last night’s event, visit our Outings blog and for further information and booking for upcoming Whatsonstage.com Outings, click here.


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