Let It Be

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Photograph: Chad Batka
Let It Be
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Photograph: Chad Batka
Let It Be
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Photograph: Chad Batka
Let It Be
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Photograph: Chad Batka
Let It Be
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Photograph: Chad Batka
Let It Be
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Photograph: Chad Batka
Let It Be

Let It Be. St. James Theatre (see Broadway). Music and lyrics by the Beatles. Directed by John Maher. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 20mins. One intermission.

Let It Be: in brief

If the 2010 Fab Four tribute Rain didn't satisfy you, here's a new incarnation of the Beatles on the Great White Way. Direct from London's West End, this concert employs video projections and "3-D sound" to chart the group's rise from its Liverpool roots to global stardom, touching on dozens of hits along the way.

Let It Be: theater review by David Cote

I like to imagine that if the inhabitants of a distant planet came across an unmanned space explorer containing a time capsule stocked with Beatles songs, the creatures would think, What a charming and clever species! If, however, those same aliens were to view a DVD of the cheesy tribute concert Let It Be, we’d all have to kiss our planetary ass goodbye.

This robotically bland megacover of Fab Four hits prolongs the drawn-out, sorry tradition of Beatles impersonation, going back to Beatlemania on Broadway in 1977 and continuing through 2010’s equally dreadful Rain. The current manifestation uses archival video and ’60s TV ads between sets in which we see musicians dressed and coiffed as Paul, John, George and Ringo on The Ed Sullivan Show, at Shea Stadium, in their Sgt. Pepper’s phase and in their final hippie apotheosis. The performers play their instruments and sing the songs convincingly enough, with George Martin studio effects piped in by an onstage keyboardist. But you could get more authenticity and insight from iTunes and surfing the Web—or playing The Beatles: Rock Band.

Let It Be is not bad so much as dead, and symptomatic of a broader cultural deadness. There are much more inventive ways to recycle a sublime pop catalog and embrace a collective act of nostalgic re-creation. Due to no doubt byzantine and tortured contractual arrangements, neither the phrase The Beatles nor any of the singers’ full names are uttered or displayed at any moment—fitting for such a sad, generic exercise in brain-dead branding.—Theater review by David Cote

Follow David Cote on Twitter: @davidcote

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Event phone: 212-329-6200
Event website: http://letitbebroadway.com
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