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Preview: ‘In My Life’ brings the story of the Beatles to the stage at the Hult

The Beatles’ personalities are nearly as legendary as their music. Listen to any of the countless flubbed takes available on the Internet and you’ll hear them joking and ribbing each other, often in less-than-savory language. These snippets of conversation were part of an ongoing studio drama that lasted the band’s entire career and, when things got tense, led to their breakup. It was only natural it would be adapted to the stage sooner or later.

Enter In My Life, a touring musical co-produced and written by Beatles fans Tom Maher and Andy Nagle. Named for the elegiac centerpiece to the Beatles’ 1965 album Rubber Soul, In My Life tells the story of the Beatles’ adventures in the studio throughout the Sixties, as narrated by their manager Brian Epstein. It previously played in Eugene in June last year at the McDonald Theatre, and it’ll be at the Hult Center this Wednesday, October 14, at 7:30 p.m.

Nagle was one of millions of Americans who saw the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964, an event that kicked off the American wave of “Beatlemania.” Having witnessed the band’s rise to legendary status, he wanted to portray the untouchable superstars as human beings.

“Lennon and McCartney are among the most successful songwriters in history,” Nagle said. “I thought it would be interesting to actually see them in the room working on a song together.”

The actors in the play also perform the songs – 33 in total, selected by both the cast members and the writer-producers. The South Eugene High School String Quartet will back the band up during string-oriented songs like “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby.”

The focus is primarily on the hits, meaning that songs had to be changed during some crucial historical moments, like the band’s final concert on the rooftop of Apple Records in January 1969.

“The casual Beatles fan will enjoy the play,” said Nagle. “But you’d have to be a pretty serious Beatles fan to remember, say, ‘Dig A Pony.'” (“Dig A Pony,” from the band’s final album Let It Be, was among the songs played at the deep cut-heavy rooftop show.)

The actors playing the Beatles are all between the ages of 22 and 32, age-appropriate for a band whose members were all still in their twenties at the time of their breakup. But this isn’t the only measure the actors take for authenticity. One of the requirements for the role of Paul McCartney was being able to play the bass left-handed, as McCartney did.

“The actor-musicians spend a great amount of effort to try and sound and look exactly like the Beatles,” Nagle said. “We want the audience to suspend belief for two-and-a-half hours – we want to take them to the time when they first heard the Beatles.”

In My Life starts at 7:30 p.m on Wednesday, Oct. 14. Tickets are $38 -$58. Student, active military and senior discounts are available. The Hult Center is located at 1 Eugene Center at 7th & Willamette.

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Daniel Bromfield

Daniel Bromfield