The stars of the ultimate Fab Four tribute show head for the resort which helped make the lads famous
There may be four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire, but there are eight ‘Beatles’ in Blackpool.
Well, that’s if you don’t count the ‘other’ tribute acts.
Four of them can be found on permanent display at Tussauds, Blackpool, just opposite Morecambe and Wise, and with Ab Fab to the right.
It’s one of the most popular displays there because it’s interactive, encouraging visitors to stop and pose on the Abbey Road zebra crossing.
Only this time visitors were being halted in their tracks by the sight of not four but eight Beatles on the road.
The waxworks had been joined by a band hailed as the next best thing by Let It Be critics across the world - and about to prove it in Blackpool at the Grand Theatre (March 28 to April 2).
And the lads fronting the show which has become an international sensation certainly caused more than a few double takes from visitors at the seafront attraction - and again on the Comedy Carpet as the four posed in their Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band outfits.. not far, incidentally, from where Sir Peter Blake, the artist who created the (rightly) iconic cover
New York, Germany, France, Japan, Vienna, London’s West End, you name it they have played it, redefining the fab four for a new generation of fans, and restoring lost youth to those of us who grew up with the songs of the real thing.
And it’s a welcome change being able to actually hear what they say let alone sing - which on this occasion is Bring Me Sunshine as the Abbey Road display is just opposite the Morecambe and Wise waxworks.
The first and last time I saw The Beatles ‘live’ was way back in the 60s at their concert at the now levelled soon to become a car park ABC Theatre. Couldn’t hear a word, just a wall of sound from all the screaming fans, couldn’t see much either - just a tiny band far far away in the spotlights.
In the flesh, particularly posed next to the Lennon waxwork, actor Reuven Gershon looks so disturbingly like the real thing he startles visitors. “It’s Lennon,” I hear one woman say as she skids to a halt at the entrance to the display area. “It’s a waxwork,” says her husband, studying his guide to the floorshow. And much as Lennon might Reuven plays up to the occasion maintaining frozen features alongside his hero.
His other hero’s Buddy Holly. “I was Buddy Holly long before I became John Lennon,” he adds cheerfully. “In fact when I was Buddy Holly people kept telling me I sounded like John Lennon so it’s a natural progression.” He’s played Blackpool before and is longing to Get Back.
He’s joined by a barefoot Macca in the form of Amanuele (Mannie) Angeletti who also seems to slip effortlessly into character as a cherubic Paul McCartney. It’s Mannie who takes pains to stress audiences at Let It Be at Blackpool’s Grand will see a show and hear a concert. And one which features every phase of the Beatles.
Their favourite era? It’s psychadelic for Paul Mannion, the only Scouser in this Beatles tag team (there’s another as show/concert commitments are so arduous on the tour). He plays George Harrison and is having trouble with the moustache. “I grew up with it,” he says, of the music, not the tache. “My favourite song’s Penny Lane. I grew up there. Playing Blackpool’s like coming home. We came here all the time as kids.” So did The Beatles - particularly Lennon.
Relative newcomer Stuart Wilkinson has stepped into the Ringo Starr role in recent weeks - and is delighted to find himself nose to nose (sorry, cheap joke) with Starkey’s waxen features.
Waxing lyrical he enthuses: “I reeally do look like him,” before pausing for a whimsical chat with the drummer. Any tips? Just don’t sing out of tune...
Erica Dillon, who works in wardrobe with the show, is delighted with just how authentic the costumes sourced for the tour look - right down to their appearance at Tussauds.
She’s in charge of keeping the outfits looking fresh and admits that eight costume changes - between the different eras featured in the concert - add to the pressure.
“I’ve never done wigs before so that’s been a learning because The Beatles changed their look a lot,” she admits.
“The biggest challenge are the sideburns - they get through a lot of sideburns!”
The hit West End and Broadway show has been seen by over a million people worldwide - and appears to have been enjoyed by virtually of them.
“The great strength is it reaches out to all age ranges,” says Reuven.
Let It Be showcases the music of the world’s most successful band, charting their meteoric rise from Liverpool’s Cavern Club, through to the height of Beatlemania and later crafted studio masterpieces. Whether it pauses to pay tribute to those local appearances - here on the Fylde- remains to be seen but the resort can rest assured it played a part in The Beatles success.
And with 40 of The Beatles’ greatest hits it’s going to be a Hard Day’s Night for Reuven, Mannie, Paul and Stuart.
They admit their own favouriters change daily - depending on mood and audience reaction.
But are they ever tempted to up sticks and leave the audience to it for the la-la-la-la-la-la finale of Hey Jude - particularly on matinee days?
“No way. We just let the audience sing it with us and for us,” says Mannie.
Your ticket to ride starts at £22.50 (concessions £2 off all performances).