Nick Blood, Leanne Best to Lead Cast of BACKBEAT at Ahmanson Theatre

Nick Blood, Leanne Best to Lead Cast of BACKBEAT at Ahmanson Theatre

The cast is set for the U.S. premiere of "Backbeat," the dramatic new play with music about the birth of one of the greatest rock 'n' roll bands in history, the Beatles. "Backbeat" will have its U.S. premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre, with previews beginning January 20 and performances continuing through March 1, 2013. The opening is set for January 30.

Featuring the all-time rock 'n' roll classics that the Beatles cut their teeth on - "Money," "Long Tall Sally," "Twist and Shout," "Good Golly Miss Molly," "Please Mr. Postman," "Rock 'n' Roll Music" and more, "Backbeat" is set in 1960 when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best (the drummer before Ringo Starr joined the group) and Stuart Sutcliffe (the band's original bassist) embarked on their journey from the docks of Liverpool to the red light district of Hamburg. There they worked in the clubs of the tawdry Reeperbahn, performing rock 'n' roll covers night after night, all the while honing what would become the Beatles' sound.

"Backbeat" is also the compelling story of Sutcliffe, who falls in love with the striking German photographer Astrid Kirchherr, and must choose between being with her and resuming his painting, or staying with his best friend, John Lennon, and playing in the band. This triangular relationship became an intrinsic part of the Beatles story, and the decisions made and the music played put them on an unstoppable trajectory onto the world stage.

The cast will feature Nick Blood (as Stuart Sutcliffe), Leanne Best (Astrid Kirchherr), Andrew Knott (John Lennon), Oliver Bennett (Pete Best), Daniel Healy (Paul McCartney) and Daniel Westwick (George Harrison). Rounding out the rest of the cast are ensemble members Edward Clarke, Josie Dunn, Sam Ford, Mark Hammersley,

Perry Ojeda, Charlotte Palmer, Phil Pritchard, Dominic Rouse, Louise Shuttleworth, Adam Sopp, Charles Swift, James Wallace and Miranda Wilford.

"Backbeat" is co-written by Iain Softley and Stephen Jeffreys, based on the 1994 Universal Pictures film by Softley, Michael Thomas and Stephen Ward. "Backbeat" is directed by five-time Tony Award nominee David Leveaux.

"'Backbeat' is a backstory to cherish," said Fiona Mountford of The Evening Standard. Michael Coveney of Whatsonstage.com called "Backbeat" a ". . . beautifully wrought . . . evocation of an era, and a particular place, as the Beatles found their inimitable voice through the grit and virility of the pounding music they loved still to play even as their own more lyrical, musically complex compositions poured forth over the next decade. For once, you really do feel like dancing in the aisles at the end."

"Backbeat" is presented by Karl Sydow in association with Glasgow Citizens Theatre, where it first opened in February 2010. "Backbeat" made its West End debut in London in October 2011. It will open in Toronto in July 2012. Following the presentation at the Ahmanson in early 2013, "Backbeat" will move to Broadway.

Tickets for "Backbeat" are available by calling (213) 972-4400, visiting online at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org, or in person at the Center Theatre Group box office at the Ahmanson Theatre. Tickets range from $20 - $110 (ticket prices are subject to change). The Ahmanson Theatre is located at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012.

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