Tuesday, January 22, 2013


It’s no secret that I love the Beatles. So naturally it was a thrill when our season tickets to the Ahmanson Theatre included Backbeat, a play about the Beatles’ Reeperbahn days in Germany. We saw Backbeat on Sunday, opening night.

I liked the play very much, despite the actors’ sometimes indecipherable Liverpudlian accents. The story focused on the Beatles’ first—and creatively seminal—trip to Hamburg, when Pete Best and John Lennon’s best friend, Stuart Sutcliffe, were still in the band. There were some historical inaccuracies, which were duly noted in the playbill. Yet the overall plot pretty much reflected the well-documented lore of the Beatles’ beginnings, including the fabled romance between Stuart and German artist Astrid Kirchherr, who took the now famous photos of the boys in their leather jackets and James Dean hairdos. The love story was a bit too tragic, even though, by all accounts, Stu’s departure from the group and (spoiler alert!) subsequent death did cast a dark shadow on the Beatles’ origins. Nonetheless, it’s an important, if less well-known part of the group's legend.

Tim isn’t a big fan of dramatic reenactments of celebrities’ lives, but he did enjoy the post-play encore (spoiler alert #2!) when the actors treated the audience to rousing covers of “Love Me Do,” “Please Please Me” and other Beatles hits. On the train ride home, a couple sitting behind us, who were also at the Ahmanson, said they enjoyed the play, but thought the music was too loud. Yikes! Are we getting too old for the Beatles? Nah!

Backbeat is playing at the Ahmanson till March 1. I recommend it for all Beatles fans and anyone interested in their early days.

Astrid's 2010 NPR interview and fabulous
Beatles photos

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