The Beatles jukebox musical Let It Be has opened to mixed reviews at the West End’s Prince of Wales Theatre, where the Fab Four gave their notable 1963 Royal Variety Performance. It is the first British musical to be granted the rights to the pop group’s entire back catalog. The creative team includes Joey Curatolo (book, direction), Beatles (music), Tim McQuillen Wright (sets), Humphrey McDermott (lights), Gareth Owen (sound), Darren McCaulley and Mathieu St-Arnaud (video), John Maher (music direction), and Jack Galloway (costumes). The rotating cast includes Emanuele Angeletti or Ian B. Garcia (Paul McCartney), Reuven Gershon or Michael Gagliano (John Lennon), Stephen Hill or John Brosnan (George Harrison), and Gordon Elsmore or Phil Martin (Ringo Starr).
Michael Coveney (What’s On): 2 out of 5 stars. There can be no complaints about the material: 30-odd of the best pop songs ever written, performed in chronological order from “She Loves You” through to “Hey Jude” by a perfectly efficient quartet of imitation Beatles, singing and playing live, with a back-up muso on synthesizer, keyboard and tambourine. It’s a fairly good concert, fairly rubbish theatre, and nothing like a musical even remotely, with a series of “visuals” that regurgitate every newsreel cliché in the book.
Andrzej Lukowski (Time Out London): 3 out of 5 stars. Some day, somebody will surely write an absolutely stonking Beatles musical. … Let It Be is not that musical. In fact, it’s not even really a musical: it’s basically a posh tribute gig … four blokes wearing wigs, playing instruments and changing costumes while bashing out proficient covers of the Fab Four’s greatest hits. … You won’t learn anything about the Beatles from Let It Be, and the production feels on the cheap side for a show of its scale – brass and strings etc. all come from a bloke on a very un-’60s synth. If ambition was The Beatles’ defining trait, there isn’t a huge amount here. But it’s likeable, with a well-chosen set list. And if you didn’t already know that the songs are astonishingly good then there are far worse introductions.
Charles Spencer (Daily Telegraph): 4 out of 5 stars. Let It Be is essentially a concert with a brilliant covers band offering a non-stop parade of hits in more or less chronological order. … Some of the wigs and false moustaches sported by the cast may be a touch dodgy, but the music is almost spookily faithful to the originals, the great irony being that the Beatles themselves never performed many of these songs live, having given up touring in 1966. Apart from a minimal amount of chat between numbers and invitations to the audience to dance and sing along, the hits just keep on coming. … For those who love the Beatles, this show is as about as good as it gets.
Natasha Tripley (Theater Mania): Let It Be, the new “theatrical concert” at the Prince of Wales Theatre, timed to coincide with the Beatles 50th anniversary celebrations, more closely resembles a good tribute act than a real musical. And if you’re a fan of the Fab Four, as so many people clearly are, that may well be enough of a reason to go. The show runs through the band’s best-known songs from their early hits to the later psychedelic experiments. And that’s all it does. There is very little in the way of content; indeed, there’s no dialogue except for some amiable between-song banter, and certainly no attempt at all to tell the story of the Beatles in any way beyond charting their musical trajectory. Luckily, the band members are all skilled musicians.
Matthew Tucker (Huffington Post): 3 out of 5 stars. Theatre aside, Let It Be is a concert fit for the most hardcore of Beatles fans – those who are seeking the consolation thrill of an authentic tribute performance. Journeying through the ages, we see a head-bopping, suit-wearing Beatles perform “Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me,” to the psychedelic military uniforms of “Sgt. Pepper” and beyond. … If you find yourself craving a dose of the Liverpudlian lads, Let It Be may well give you your Beatles fix – however, best prescribed for die-hard fans.