It’s the Beatles like you’ve never seen them before: defying murder, cancer, and old age to be here, on stage, reenacting the story of themselves! OK, so it may not be the real John, Paul, Ringo, or George, but this is likely the most spot-on form of Beatles tribute to ever hit the Central Coast.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF LA JOLLA BOOKING AGENCY
- SIT BACK AND LET THE EVENING GO : John, Ringo, Paul, and George are back together again in the new musical Ticket to Ride.
A Ticket to Ride is a retelling of the Beatles’ history through the eyes of their manager, Brian Epstein. The musical production is coming to the Clark Center in Arroyo Grande on May 7, bringing with it the music, the clothing, and the all-around authenticity to honor the Fab Four and delight Beatlemaniacs of all ages.
Epstein’s character, played by Mark Nager, narrates the show, taking the audience through the timeline of the Beatles’ rise to fame.
“It goes through pivotal points in The Beatles history, starting at the Cavern Club where they met Brian Epstein,” said Andy Nagle of La Jolla Booking Agency. “We tried to tell the Beatles’ story through their point of view. It’s a glimpse behind the scenes.”
The whole idea for the show started with a nonchalant suggestion for fundraising ideas, pitched to Nagle, who co-wrote the musical biography.
At the time, Nagle was a lawyer by day, theater dad by night. When one of the kids suggested their father’s Beatles tribute band play some shows to raise money for the local theater company where Nagle volunteered, they ran with the idea, combining Beatles tribute music with the very thing they were doing that moment: theater.
This how A Ticket to Ride was born, and it’s also how La Jolla Booking Agency came to be—created out of necessity to handle the logistics of their imminent undertaking.
Nagle said that when they cast the four Beatles, the expectation was that the actors would play simply in the musical. The band then played some shows in clubs together for the sole purpose of improving their group dynamics, but they now play shows as a band, called Abbey Road, separate from the production.
According to Nagle, the accuracy of their songs is down to the note—they even play the very few mistakes the Beatles made on their original records. Abbey Road members are musicians who double as actors; they all play their character on stage as well.
John Lennon is played by Tyson Kelly, a 22-year-old who inadvertently spent his life preparing for the role.
“I’ve always been into the Beatles, and in high school I was obsessed with John Lennon,” Kelly said. “I eventually ended up growing out my hair, and I listened to a lot of interviews and watched a lot of old footage.”
But even before high school, Kelly said, he regularly spent hours on the road with his dad driving to Tahoe, and the only cassette tape they had to entertain them for miles of reception-less road was, of course, the Beatles’ 1965 album, Help!.
Kelly said this early exposure not only developed his love for the band, but also helped him execute the perfect Liverpudlian Scouse. He’s the only one of the four with previous acting experience, but according to the crew, acting came naturally to the others.
Benny Chadwick auditioned for the role of Paul McCartney with no acting experience, but with enough experience playing in a tribute band and Paul-knowledge to land the part.
Chadwick recently took a big step in his Beatles career, one that made his nightly transformation into Paul authentic and official: He trained himself to play his bass guitar left handed, just like Paul himself. The switch is a testament to his dedication and passion for his role and the music. Chadwick said interacting with the audiences and fans is one of his favorite parts of the show.
“Something that stands out to me is seeing the broad age range in the crowds,” he said. “For some reason, the show has a coolness that every age can appreciate.”
In fact, it was teenagers who first pointed out a historical inaccuracy in the show. The Beatles’ final live performance ever played together took place on a rooftop in rainy, cold weather. Before the impromptu show, the guys borrowed fur coats and raincoats from their wives before heading to the rooftop for their farewell.
Initially, the actors in the musical didn’t don women’s winter attire during this scene. But apparently, it’s what the video game version of the Fab Four wears in parts of The Beatles Rock Band, a factoid that caused great distress to teens who were anxious make the connection during the show.
The cast said the musical has evolved a lot since its beginning, getting better in all aspects of musical logistics, and—aside from that one overlooked costuming incident—they’re free from any historical slips.
And we bet you can’t find another. Consider that a challenge.
Reach intern Amber Kiwan through Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach at firstname.lastname@example.org.