Presented by Theatergroep Max.
Conceived by Moniek Merkx
Music by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Vincent Van Warmerdam and others
Who were they before they became The Beatles? The setting is Liverpool, in the late 1950s. All you have is a guitar, a dream, and a new sound. With songs performed live on stage, we witness the early collaboration of teens that became the most popular band in the world. This dynamic story delves into struggles of friendship, jealousy, and the insatiable, burning passion for music. HELP is about pursuing your dream, discovering the road to success, and choosing which path to follow.
I first saw HELP in Amsterdam in 2009 and spent years trying to bring it to our audience,” says SCT Artistic Director Linda Hartzell. “It’s an incredibly moving, theatrically exciting and musically astounding show. This is a theatre production and a musical concert! The historical impact of The Beatles is incredible; their music is ageless and their lyrics have become integrated into our vernacular, yet they had their challenges, and we can empathize with their frustrations and early rejections.”
ASL Interpreted Dates:
Public - May 5 @ 2pm
Schools - May 1 @ 10:30am
In the Wings Dramashop:
Saturday, April 28
Ages 11 and up
Parental loss, reference to alcohol and teen issues makes this show most appropriate for middle school ages and older.
Music, Friendship, Perseverance, Adolescence, Careers, Stardom, Ambition, Rejection
The Beatles are setting up for their first show in London. John, Paul, George and Ringo are
excited and anxious for this moment. Nancy, their biggest fan, is standing in a crowd of people
that have been in line all night to get tickets. She has known the band since they first started
playing in Liverpool.
How did they all get here?
We go back to when it started. John and his drummer friend, Pete, perform at a church party
where Nancy has been named Queen of the Roses. Paul and George have come to hear them
play. A shared passion for music is an instant connection between John and Paul, and George
tells us, “The rest is history.” But success doesn’t come easily.
The newly-formed band of John, Pete, Paul and George plays for some unappreciative
audiences. At the Knitting for Our Soldiers gathering of the Catholic Women’s Club, the ladies
applaud only when the band stops playing. When it comes time for the club to award a trophy
for the nicest hand-made sweater, both the sweater and trophy are found missing. The ladies
suspect “...those awful lads. With their awful music” of theft - and they are right. The boys use
the stolen trophy to take a pledge “To stay together forever...and to be the best band in the
Things are starting to click with the musicians, and Nancy is thrilled when she is near them,
but their home lives aren’t going as smoothly. John’s mother, Julia, left him when he was very
young. He hardly ever sees her. She visits him after one of his performances and he pleads
with her to come home. All she does is promise to come to his next show. Nancy’s
relationship with her mother is not much better. She lives for the times when she can get
away from her miserable home. The band is her safe haven.
Tension builds at their next rehearsal. Pete, who has become increasingly unhappy with
Paul’s control over the group, shows up late. Again. Paul tries to deal with the issue gently.
John cuts to the chase – if Pete doesn’t start putting in more effort he can pack his things and
go. Pete continues to simmer, but they get back to work. As Paul and John collaborate on
songwriting and learn to understand each other’s styles, the music they make gets better and
Then John’s world changes. He gets news that his mother has been hit by a car and killed, and
he stops coming to rehearsal. Paul, Pete and George struggle to keep things together. Pete’s
cousin wants his drum set back. George’s amplifier is breaking down. This could be the end of
the band. When John finally returns, he wants none of their sympathy, does not want to talk
about his mother, does not want to hear about any problems. He announces that they’re going
to Hamburg, Germany, where people love the kind of music the band is making and they can
perform in clubs every night.
Hamburg rocks! Girls, parties, music! John tries to forget his mother, but she still looms in his
memory. When the wild days and nights of Hamburg eventually end and the boys come back
to Liverpool, real success still seems out of their reach. They see each other only when they
perform. Once a week they draw crowds to see them play - in a basement. They still haven’t
recorded anything. Still haven’t lit the fuse.
But someone who will transform their lives saw them perform in Hamburg: Brian Epstein. He
comes to find them at the fish and chips shop where Pete works and offers to manage the
band. They start to work better places and actually bring in some money. Finally, they make
their way into a recording studio. They are set to record their first original song, until Brian
tells them, “Everything fits together perfectly, except...”
A new face joins them in the studio. A new drummer - Ringo. Pete can’t believe he’s being cut
from the band. He pleads with John, reminding him that they started this whole thing, that it’s
their sound. John is torn and refuses to argue. Paul and George stand firm.
Back in London, where the play began, the band is finishing their set-up for the concert. The
memory of John’s mother comes to him. He still needs her - still doesn’t know how to fill the
loneliness without her. She sings to him. “Blackbird singing in the dead of night - take these
broken wings and learn to fly...”
The concert begins, with Nancy leading the screaming fans. “I’m here and I’m finally happy...
It’s happening now!”
April 12 - May 13
Ages 11 and up - adolescent themes
Charlotte Martin Theatre