Musical highlights Beatles festival

SANTA MONICA - In 2008, volunteers with a local community theater wrote a script about the Beatles and asked a tribute band to perform the show as a fundraiser for their youth program."Ticket to Ride Musical - A Fusion of Theatre and Beatles Music" shattered box office records, received rave newspaper reviews, won an award and is now a successful touring national show. The musical will headline Beatles Festival 2010, a three-day free event on the Santa Monica Pier, with a performance Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Santa Monica High School. The Beatles Festival, now in its second year, will feature live entertainment by rock tribute bands, twilight dance parties, Beatles movies, merchandise vendors, beer and food, Beatles karaoke, a kids zone, celebrity appearances and a performance by tribute band Led Zepagain. The festival was held at the Queen Mary in Long Beach last year and drew more than 25,000 people. "It's a wonderful gathering of people who love the Beatles and their music," said promoter Fred Zermeno, who anticipates in excess of 20,000 people at this year's festival. "The Beatles arrived in America 46 years ago and continue to be immensely popular today." "Ticket to Ride Musical" is a retelling of the Beatles history through the eyes of manager Brian Epstein and features the live music of tribute band Abbey Road. For the Santa Monica performance, the production partnered with the Santa Monica High School music department, and four string players will appear on stage to accompany "Paul" during "Yesterday." Chris Carter, host of "Breakfast with the Beatles" on radio station KLOS, will make a special appearance at the show. In December, 2008, the La Habra Depot Theatre asked volunteer producer Andy Nagle to write a script which would give the audience a glimpse inside the world of the Beatles from their point of view, as well as hear some of the greatest songs ever written. Nagle wrote a play which gives the audience to "be there" at pivotal moments in the extraordinary career of the Beatles - from Liverpool's legendary Cavern Club, to the "Ed Sullivan Show," Shea Stadium's 50,000-plus screaming fans and their final live performance on the rooftop of their Apple Corp offices. "The last thing on my radar was writing the script for a Beatles tribute show, but I loved the concept of 'being there' with the Fabs, when all these legendary events took place," said Nagle, a retired attorney. The show premiered to sold-out audiences in April 2009 and a number of nights were added to keep up with demand. The show received positive reviews from the local press, and received a Roar of the Crowd award. It also was rated higher by online audiences than any other stage production in Southern California during the week of April 26, 2009. The actors and production crew were community theater volunteers. The production has traveled the country playing regional theaters. The show's producers cast Beatle tribute musicians and actors to travel with the show, and most of the original volunteer stage crew now work and travel with the show. A professional actor has been hired to play the role of Epstein. "It's truly remarkable how far we've come and how quickly," said band manager Tom Maher. "A year and a half ago we started out as a community theater fundraiser and now we're becoming a national phenomenon." For each run of the shows, the producers and musicians raise funds for a selected local charity. On Aug. 27, a VIP party and silent auction will be held at the Doubletree Hotel to benefit the Bob Hope USO of Greater Los Angeles. Tickets to see "Ticket to Ride Musical" in Santa Monica are $25 and available on Ticketmaster.

********** Published: August 5, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 16