L.A. Run of Backbeat, the Beatles Origin Story, Will Star Nick Blood, Andrew Knott, Daniel Healy and More

By Kenneth Jones
January 4, 2013

Casting has been announced for the American premiere of the Broadway-aimed musical Backbeat, about the birth of the Beatles, to begin Jan. 20 at the Center Theatre Group's Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. Some players from the London run will reunite.



Backbeat will officially open Jan. 30, for a limited run to March 1. The cast will feature Nick Blood (as Stuart Sutcliffe), Leanne Best (Astrid Kirchherr), Andrew Knott (John Lennon), Oliver Bennett (Pete Best), Daniel Healy (Paul McCartney) and Daniel Westwick (George Harrison), plus ensemble members Edward Clarke, Josie Dunn, Sam Ford, Mark Hammersley, Perry Ojeda, Charlotte Palmer, Phil Pritchard, Dominic Rouse, Louise Shuttleworth, Adam Sopp, Charles Swift, James Wallace and Miranda Wilford.

The musical shows "the birth of one of the greatest rock 'n' roll bands in history" — or, "how the Beatles became the Beatles." It's co-written by Iain Softley and Stephen Jeffreys, based on the 1994 Universal Pictures film by Softley, Michael Thomas and Stephen Ward. Backbeat is directed by five-time Tony Award nominee David Leveaux (Nine, Fiddler on the Roof).

The Backbeat score features the rock classics "that the Beatles cut their teeth on," including "Money," "Long Tall Sally," "Twist and Shout," "Good Golly Miss Molly," "Please Mr. Postman," "Rock 'n' Roll Music" and more.

The show is set in 1960 when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best (the drummer before Ringo Starr joined the group) and Stuart Sutcliffe (the band's original bassist) "embarked on their journey from the docks of Liverpool to the red light district of Hamburg," where "they worked in the clubs of the tawdry Reeperbahn, performing rock 'n' roll covers night after night, all the while honing what would become the Beatles' sound."

Backbeat also looks at "the compelling story of Sutcliffe, who falls in love with the striking German photographer Astrid Kirchherr, and must choose between being with her and resuming his painting, or staying with his best friend, John Lennon, and playing in the band," according to production nostes. "This triangular relationship became an intrinsic part of the Beatles story, and the decisions made and the music played put them on an unstoppable trajectory onto the world stage."

Backbeat is presented by Karl Sydow in association with Glasgow Citizens Theatre, where it first opened in February 2010. The musical made its West End debut in London in October 2011. It opened in Toronto in July 2012.

Following the presentation at the Ahmanson in early 2013, Backbeat will move to Broadway, according to an earlier announcement.

For CTG subscription information, visit CenterTheatreGroup.org.