By Erica Olsen

For those of you who missed the Beatles live in their heyday, it’s not too late. “Backbeat” at Ahmanson Theatre is a Beatles rock concert posing as a musical. The limited engagement (ends March 1) might be because of the Broadway-bound rumors but if you can squeeze it in, be prepared to “Twist and Shout,” quite literally since the end of the show is a free for all dance party.  Some twenty- or thirty-somethings may think they’re too cool to jump up and dance, but the music gets under your skin and trust me you’ll be right there next to a baby boomer boogying down.

Directed by five-time Tony Award® nominee David Leveaux, the musical is based on the beginning of the Beatles…before Sgt. Pepper, even before Ringo, when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, Pete Best, and the original bassist, Stuart Sutcliffe worked in the seediest of clubs of Hamburg, Germany, honing their sound and working through the growing pains of making it.

It’s a story of friendship, sacrifice and the pain of a true artist. One of the most beautiful scenes depicts the photo session by Sutcliffe’s then girlfriend (later fiancé) Astrid Kirchherr. The real photographs are incorporated into the scene via floor to ceiling panels transporting you through time. Even with a few bumps in the overall performance, the music more than makes up for it and the talented actors/musicians will be making you say “Love Me Do!”


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