The Beatles musical Let It Be opens on Broadway tonight, despite an on-going copyright dispute filed against the show by a rival production.
Let It Be, which originally opened at the Prince of Wales Theatre in the West End in September last year, features a tribute band performing live versions of 40 of the foursome’s greatest hits including "She Loves You," "Yesterday" and "When I’m 64."
But the show’s producers have been sued by the creators of rival tribute musical Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles, which ran on Broadway between October 2010 and July 2011.
The lawsuit claims that Let It Be incorporates elements of the Rain show, including musical arrangements of The Beatles’ hits, Scouse-inflected stage banter between the band members, and the hairstyles.
The Rain Corporation also contends that the show uses 28 of the 31 songs performed in Rain, claiming that “the artwork used as background during the performance of many of those songs are similar or identical.”
Peter Cane, a lawyer for Let It Be’s producers Jeff Parry and Annerin Productions, argued that the copyright claim was absurd.
“Let It Be is a tribute to The Beatles, not to the four guys who impersonate The Beatles,” he told The New York Times.
However, the Rain producers said that they and the Let It Be team had initially come together in 2005, forming a 50-50 partnership, to create what became Rain.
Parry wanted to create a London version of Rain and it was this spin-off which ultimately became Let It Be. The Rain Corporation lawsuit said it supplied Let It Be with its script, helped to rehearse cast members and even “oversaw the cast’s costume fitting and wig cutting/styling”.
When the West End show launched, Parry then sent an e-mail saying that the agreement was no longer valid and that the Rain creators were now entitled to just 7.125 per cent of the revenue.
The Rain Corporation’s lawsuit calls for a 50 per cent share from the Broadway production of Let It Be, which opens tonight, and any further openings.