The Beatles come alive in ‘Let It Be’ at the Wheeler Opera House | AspenTimes.com

The Beatles come alive in ‘Let It Be’ at the Wheeler Opera House

Bringing The Beatles to life for audiences around the world, the cast members of "Let It Be" had to do more than just put on some wigs and costumes and learn some songs.

The tribute band's theatrical shows do more than cover The Beatles' classics. They aim to honor the art of John, Paul, George and Ringo by channeling them and giving fans the closest thing they'll ever get to a true Beatles concert experience.

Michael Gagliano, who has played John Lennon in the tribute band since joining the cast of the wildly popular 2012 production in London's West End, said it's taken a lifetime of studying the songwriter to prepare him for "Let It Be."

"When I play John onstage, I play him as if he's alive and you can get to see him," Gagliano said from a recent tour stop in Detroit. "I understand who he is as a person and I've grown up loving him and absorbing everything about him in my very essence. Some people have a lot of religion in their lives. John Lennon is my god. He's the god I've studied."

On the current American tour, which comes to the Wheeler Opera House tonight, "Let It Be" runs through The Beatles' career and creative periods, beginning with a multimedia recreation of its watershed appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in February 1964.

From there — with quick costume changes — they delve into the band's transformation from the mop-topped pop group that invaded America into the groundbreaking psych-rock experimental musicians of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and the genius of "The White Album" and "Abbey Road" periods.

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After an intermission, "Let It Be" comes back onstage to imagine a 1980 reunion where The Beatles come together and play its members' solo material together.

"So it's the beginning of The Beatles to, basically, what they would be like now," said Gagliano.

Gagliano noted that The Beatles only existed for 10 years, and only released records for eight of those years, but that they wrote 200 songs in that short period and invented rock stardom and pop music as we know it today. For fans like Gagliano, who were born after the band's legendary career, one can only imagine the impact of hearing The Beatles when their music was new.

"It's incredible to look back on their career now, thinking, 'Wow, what would that have been like, to hear it for the first time?' Man only landed on the moon for the first time once," he said.

Before founding "Let It Be," Gagliano was an accomplished singer-songwriter in his own right, and fronted the British power pop band The Sails. The influence of John Lennon and The Beatles on his work as an original artist, he said, is immeasurable.

"Without The Beatles, I wouldn't be who I am," he said.

Further, he argued, just about anyone making pop music since The Beatles ­— from Michael Jackson to One Direction — is simply riffing on what The Beatles have already done.

"Everything else is just an echo of what The Beatles set off," he said. "I am a Beatle. If you're in a pop group and you tour the world with a guitar with your buddies: that is The Beatles. Every band and pop group really is The Beatles."

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If You Go …

What: “Let It Be: A Celebration of the Music of The Beatles”

Where: Wheeler Opera House

When: Tuesday, March 28, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $55

Tickets: Wheeler box office; http://www.aspenshowtix.com

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