A CANADIAN producing a show about Britain’s most successful band might sound like sacrilege – and the man himself, Jeff Parry, even agrees!
He took Beatles theatre show Let It Be around the globe to the stages of Tokyo, New York and Moscow among others before opening in the West End in 2012, and says: “It was surreal. I’m still trying to get to grips with that even to this day.”
Jeff grew up in Calgary, and was given the Please Please Me album as a child – and the love affair began from that first listen.
“Their music has been with me all of my life and, by coincidence, has been the road map to my career,” he says, but adds: “I never intended to create a show about The Beatles, in fact, I wanted to avoid that as I thought their music was too important for a ‘tribute’ show. I had seen many and usually left at the interval.”
Unlike many Beatles tributes, Let It Be does not set out to tell a story – the band just play the songs from different eras, backed by a live feed of archive video footage.
“People seem to like the fact that they don’t have to sit through a story to hear the songs in context to the archival footage we use to depict the times,” explains Jeff.
But he says it’s difficult to select which songs to cover because the band progressed so much in a short space of time.
“A lot happened in the ’60s: post-war England, the Cavern Club, Hard Day’s Night, Shea Stadium, Sergeant Pepper and the Magical Mystery Tour, through to grown men who didn’t need costumes to relate to changing times.
“What makes The Beatles so special, aside from their songs, is that they stayed ahead of the curve. No other group came anywhere near, in my mind.”
Now 60, Jeff says Let It Be sticks to a formula of playing the most popular songs – ‘because people want to hear them’. His own fab four fave? “It can change with my mood. Sometimes I want to hear I Want To Hold Your Hand.
“Other times it would be Within Without You and special songs, like I’ll Be Back.”
Find out if your favourite song is included when Let It Be rocks in to the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Monday 21 March until Saturday 26 March.