Help! We need a Ringo... Wannabe Fab Fours audition for Beatles show

Hundreds flock to theatre for a part in a new musical, reports Charlie Cooper

When The Beatles appeared at West End theatres early in their career, they would be hurried out of taxis, grinning from ear to ear as hoards of adoring female fans screamed their names.

For more than a hundred mop-topped hopefuls arriving at the Gielgud Theatre yesterday to audition for a new Beatles-inspired musical, such adoration was, sadly, in short supply. Inside the theatre, however, the spirit of the Fab Four was alive and well.

The producers of Let it Be, the musical, are looking for a John, a Paul, a George and a Ringo – not to mention a “fifth Beatle” to play keyboard – to star in the show, which is due to open in September, fifty years since The Beatles released their first single Love Me Do.

“I’m going for John. It would be magic,” said one of the first through the door yesterday morning, Michael Pinnington, a 26-year-old scouser. “He’s a hero of mine and to play his music in a place so close to where it all really happened for him would be amazing. I’ve got the accent, the only problem is he was right-handed, and I’m left.”

Warming up downstairs is a rag-tag band of latter-day Beatles – a sea of black suits and Chelsea boots the like of which the West End has not seen in many a long year.

“It’s not my real hair,” insists Matt Nichols, 24, who has just performed a rather impressive Here Comes the Sun in front of the judges. Nichols, like many of the hopefuls, is in a Beatles tribute act and has come decked out in full costume of the Beatlemania era. His band, the Bealtez, play cruise ships.

“I think George Harrison would have found this all a bit strange, but the story of The Beatles is one that people still want to hear, whether you tell it on film, on stage or with their music,” he said.

“We don’t just want look-alikes,” the show’s producer, Jamie Hendry told The Independent in a break between auditions. “What we want is excellent musicians who can sing and play every note, and pick up on every nuance of the way The Beatles did it. We want them not just to look like, but to feel like a Beatle.”

Let it Be, which will take the form of a gig spanning 20 songs from different stages of The Beatles’ career, is the first West End show to be granted the rights to the band’s back catalogue. The Beatles’ rise to stardom will be shown with real footage from the time, but Hendry promises that there will be no storyline “pushed onto the music” in the style of other West End tributes to bands, nor will the songs be altered in any way.

Two sets of four Beatles will eventually be chosen from hundreds of hopefuls. Two keyboardists will also be cast to provide backing and effects for some of the band’s later hits which were never performed live. Another round of open auditions was held at the Cavern Club in Liverpool – where the Beatles played their first gigs – earlier this month.

“It has been great finding talented people without agents, who you just wouldn’t come across through the usual casting channels,” said Hendry. “Out of 60 people who auditioned in Liverpool, we’ve called 15 back to work with them further and expect to take a similar ratio from the London audition.”

Let it Be will have a limited run at the Prince of Wales Theatre, where The Beatles played at the 1963 Royal Variety Performance in front of the Queen Mother – a performance remembered for John Lennon iconoclastic jibe, “Could the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands, and the rest of you just rattle your jewellery”.

Isaac Shalam, who at 15-years-old was born nearly forty years after the band split up, took the day off school to have a crack at playing a fittingly baby-faced Paul McCartney.

“My dad refused to play nursery rhymes to me when I was little – I was raised on The Beatles.” he said before his audition. “At my age John and Paul were listening to and copying Elvis and playing with The Quarrymen so in a way I’m like them. But The Beatles made universal music, I don’t think people will ever stop listening to it.”

Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'