by Clark Groome
For 50 years The Beatles have been one of the most popular, honored and influential pop groups in history. Their music is so good, so timeless, that even now, long after they split, long after John Lennon was murdered and George Harrison died, they are still among the best-selling groups in the world.
Their history and their music have been the basis of several popular stage productions one of which, “4 Lads from Liverpool,” is opening the Act II Playhouse in Ambler’s 2012-2013 season, where it’ll stay through Sept. 30.
The lads are Douglas Cox (Ringo), Robert Graham (John), Paul Ramone (Paul) and Jimmy Pou (George). The songs include “My Girl,” “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” “Eight Days of the Week,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “In My Life” and “Hey Jude.”
The show has two 40-minute sets. Much of the time the audience is encouraged to clap, sing, shout and even stand up and dance. It’s an audience-friendly evening to be sure. The music is also top-notch.
The performances are, so far as I can tell, quite good. I say “so far as I can tell” because, like so many musicals these days, this one is terribly over-amplified.
Act II’s theater is intimate, probably about the size of the Liverpool clubs in which the Beatles got their start. While amplification is necessary for the guitars and basses and so forth, it doesn’t need to be as loud as it is here. What that does is flatten some of the subtleties in the music and make it hard to discern who is playing what.
That’s too bad because the appealing cast has a fine approach to the great songs they perform. If only it didn’t hurt to listen to them, the evening would be even more appealing than it already is.
For tickets to “4 Lads from Liverpool,” playing through Sept. 30 at Act II Playhouse in Ambler, call 215-654-0200 or visit www.act2.org