BWW Reviews: HELP at Seattle Children’s Theatre
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by Jay Irwin
I am the wrong audience for the current show at Seattle Children's Theatre, "Help". I am not an avid fan of The Beatles (blasphemy, I know), I think I'm the wrong age group for some of the choices and I'm not sure I completely understand the choice to bring a biographical play about The Beatles to a children's theatre. So yeah, wrong audience. But, even as the wrong audience I was able to appreciate the incredibly talented performers up on that stage.
Presented through Holland's Theatergroep Max, "Help" explores the early years of those Four Lads from Liverpool who went on to become one of the world's biggest and most enduring sensations. John, Paul, George and Pete (yes, Pete. Ringo didn't come on until later) had dreams of stardom but I'm not sure they ever dreamed anything like what they became. And along that journey they had to overcome many hardships, including, love, death and how to tell a band member he's no longer needed.
But then, we all know the story, or most of us do. Which may be one of the reasons for bringing it to a younger audience to expose them to these legendary performers. Or maybe it was to give something for the parents to get into as they take their kids to the theater. Whatever the reason, the show for the most part, works. I did feel at times some of the staging got a little too silly as if they were trying to wake up the younger kids in the audience (and it did accomplish that as it elicited squeals of delight as the boys beat each other over the head with foam tubes).
Whatever the reasons and any inconsistencies, the show is still a rocking good time. Dutch performers Erik van der Horst (George), Marne Miesen (Paul), Matthijs van de Sande Bakhuyzen (John), Mees van Warmerdam (Ringo), Viktor Griffioen (Pete), and Lottie Hellingman all proved themselves to be amazing actors and musicians. They nailed the characters and scenes while still staying true to the story and the music. I especially have to call out van der Horst who cranked out some stunning licks on his bass guitar and kept the story moving as a kind of narrator for the piece.
So even for a Beatles novice as myself I managed a good time. I can only assume if you're attending as a fan or as a parent looking to indoctrinate your kid into your own personal geekdom you should have a great time. If nothing else, it's a group of very talented performers singing tunes from one of the most popular bands on the planet. And that ain't bad.
"Help" performs at Seattle Children's Theatre through May 13th. For tickets or information contact the Seattle Children's Theatre box office at 206-441-3322 or visit them online at www.sct.org.
Photo credit: Chris Bennion