Review Roundup: LET IT BE Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!
The Fab Four are taking Broadway by storm with Let It Be, a spectacular concert experience at Broadway's St. James Theatre. The show opens tonight, July 24th, and will play a strictly limited engagement through Sunday, December 29th.
The Broadway cast of Let It Be features Graham Alexander, John Brosnan, Ryan Coath, James Fox, Reuven Gershon, Chris McBurney and Luke Roberts, with Ryan Alex Farmery, John Korba and Daniel A. Weiss.
Direct from London's West End, where it continues its celebrated open-ended run, Let It Be features songs from The Beatles' greatest hits. Born as a West End production to celebrate the legendary band's 50th anniversary, Let It Be uses projections and surround sound to put audiences at the heart of The Beatles' meteoric rise from their humble beginnings in Liverpool's Cavern Club, through the heights of Beatlemania, to their later studio masterpieces with live performances of songs including "Twist and Shout," "She Loves You," "Drive My Car," "Yesterday," "Hey Jude," "Come Together" and, of course, "Let It Be."
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Anita Gates, The New York Times: Yes, another Beatles tribute is on Broadway. Wasn't it just yesterday that "Rain" opened at the Neil Simon? Pretty much. It was 2010, and Charles Isherwood, reviewing it for The Times, called it "enhanced karaoke." In long-ago 1977, "Beatlemania" - "not the Beatles, but an incredible simulation" - opened at the Winter Garden and ran for two years. In his review for The Times, John Rockwell decreed it "an unobjectionable diversion." Gentle mods and rockers of a certain age, I saw them both. I cringed at the 1977 show. (I mean, all four of the real guys were still alive and in their 30s.) I let myself get carried away at the second. And I can happily report that "Let It Be" is by far the best of the bunch. The word "celebration" in the subtitle is well chosen, and the performers are outstanding, as nostalgia substitutes and as musicians in their own right.
Jennifer Farrar, Associated Press: Even fake Beatles can bring back good memories of the real thing, when they're truly talented...If you can check your nostalgia at the door, the tribute show "Let It Be" that opened Wednesday night on Broadway at the St. James Theatre stands on its own as a lively, multimedia concert and a rocking good time...Due to copyright issues, the Beatles' real names are never used either in the program or during the 2½-hour-long show, nor is the word "Beatles" heard or seen onstage. But there's no question who these enthusiastic musicians are portraying. In fact, it's a little creepy for those who were around during the originals to see the two deceased Beatles accurately reincarnated. Visually invoking Lennon, Reuven Gershon performs with appropriate cool, while John Brosnan is nicely intense as lead guitarist George Harrison.
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: Another year, another Beatles tribute show on Broadway. Less than two years after the Fab Four were last resurrected in the tribute show Rain, the similarly conceived and executed Let It Behas arrived to satisfy the nostalgic demands of aging baby boomers. Indeed, this show is so closely patterned after Rain that its creators have initiated a lawsuit arguing copyright infringement. But whatever legal complications ensue, there's no doubt that the experience is virtually the same...Devoid of narrative, it simply presents a group of Beatles imitators delivering some forty of the iconic group's classic songs, accompanied by video projections. It's essentially a concert by an excellent cover band, featuring elaborate visual trappings.
Linda Winer, Newsday: Now we have "Let It Be," which -- I lose track -- is a rip-off of an imitation of a cover band of a sound-alike replica for people who may also take comfort in beloved dead animals stuffed by taxidermists...But "Let It Be," still running in London, strikes me as the cheesiest yet of the Beatles so-called celebrations, intended for audiences who prefer live fakes to experiencing the real thing on great documentaries and albums...I hasten to report that many in the audience happily rose from their seats, clapped and danced when encouraged to do so. But when projections of strawberries streamed across the proscenium during "Strawberry Fields Forever," the lyric "nothing is real" felt really sad.
Elysa Gardner, USA Today: Watching the new Beatles homage Let It Be (* * ½ out of four), certain audience members are bound to feel a sense of déjà vu - not for the Fab Four themselves, but for the last Broadway salute to them...Luckily, Let It Be's company, which includes supporting musicians, is competent enough as singers and instrumentalists to make the numbers compelling. A few of Fox's high notes were shaky at the preview, and the energy sagged a bit during an Unplugged-style acoustic segment that included such haunting classics as Blackbirdand Norwegian Wood. But more driving, muscular favorites, from Ticket to Ride to Come Together, were executed with enough panache to make you appreciate their magic, even without fully recapturing it. Which pretty much sums up both the appeal and the limitations of Let It Be - and other shows like it.