Decades after the Beatles broke up, fans continue to flock to tribute performances in remembrance of the Fab Four. “In My Life—A Musical Theatre Tribute” re-creates the life of the Beatles at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The two-act show, co-produced by Tom Maher and Andy Nagle, tells the story of the Beatles with the band’s manager, Brian Epstein (played by Edan Freiberger), as the narrator. Written by Nagle in 2007, the production re-creates the music and image of the band using almost-identical costumes and instruments.
“They worked very hard at trying to sound exactly like the Beatles, moving like them, acting like them,” Nagle said. The four musicians portraying the band also perform tribute concerts under the name Abbey Road.
But wearing similar costumes and playing the hits is just part of the artists’ roles for “In My Life.” Nagle said the actors also have to display similar mannerisms, meaning Chris Paul Overall, who is naturally right-handed, had to learn how to play the bass guitar left handed, just like Paul McCartney.
Nonetheless, Overall said he is proud to be part of a production capturing the musical legacy the Beatles left behind.
“Paul is one of the greatest musical talents of all time,” Overall said. “It is such an honor to portray him.”
Fellow cast member Jesse Wilder, who portrays George Harrison, said immersing himself in research gave him an even greater understanding of his character.
“I developed a tremendous respect for both his musicianship and what kind of person he was,” Wilder said. “He was one of the most respected guitarists of all times, yet he was so humble.”
The show also features Axel Clarke as Ringo Starr and Gregory Wilmot as John Lennon.
Creating the show brought some challenges. Nagle, who wanted to highlight the significant aspects of Beatlemania, said he struggled to maintain a family-friendly yet accurate account of the Beatles’ story, which includes Epstein’s death of a drug overdose. Nagle said when Epstein re-appears in the musical after his death, it is left unclear whether or not he is alive.
The performance sold out for its debut at La Habra Depot Theater. Several media outlets published reviews applauding the production, including the Orange County Register, which called the show “smart and loads of fun.” Nagle said soon after, other theaters became interested in the show.
Several sources criticized the tribute, saying it lacked true theatric value. However, Nagle thinks Beatles fans appreciate the high concentration of music. The production features 31 songs, three of which will be accompanied by the Del Norte High School String Quartet.
“We don't want to weigh the show down with a lot of talking,” Nagle said. “They're mostly there for the music.”
Nagle said this is a great event for people of all ages to enjoy the memory of the unparalleled Fab Four and unprecedented cross-generational music.
“Grandkids and their grandparents can go to this together,” Nagle said.
Tickets for “In My Life” are available at the PCPA website and box office at (858) 748-0505. Prices range from $20-$35 for adults and $18-$25 for children (1 to 12 years old) and seniors (62 years old and older).