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Review: The Beatles still live in Slovakia

It was with a great deal of skepticism that I went to see the Slovak musical about The Beatles on April 3. The very idea of anyone attempting to imitate the legendary British group was bad enough, but to present the boys by making a musical about them seemed even worse - John, Paul, George and Ringo cast in the same light as John Travolta and Olivia Newton John seemed entirely pointless, laughable and even a bit offensive.
But while the musical itself was just as inane as expected, the band was surprisingly good. It actually appeared that John Lennon and the rest of The Beatles had risen from the dead, rescuing from total disaster what was otherwise a silly replication of the world famous Liverpool-lads.


The Backwards, as the boys from Košice are known, would be well-served if they performed without the annoying side-show of distractions.
photo: Courtesy Nová Scéna

The Beatles

Where: Nová Scéna (The Nová Scéna Theater), Kollárovo námestie 20
Tel: 5292 5741
Tickets: 199 Sk
When:Show times for May to be determined

It was with a great deal of skepticism that I went to see the Slovak musical about The Beatles on April 3. The very idea of anyone attempting to imitate the legendary British group was bad enough, but to present the boys by making a musical about them seemed even worse - John, Paul, George and Ringo cast in the same light as John Travolta and Olivia Newton John seemed entirely pointless, laughable and even a bit offensive.

But while the musical itself was just as inane as expected, the band was surprisingly good. It actually appeared that John Lennon and the rest of The Beatles had risen from the dead, rescuing from total disaster what was otherwise a silly replication of the world famous Liverpool-lads.

Calling themselves The Backwards, the boys from Košice were astounding in their resemblance of the real thing. Having won first price at a Beatles festival in New York - where even George Harrison's sister couldn't believe her own ears - The Backwards really do sound just like The Beatles. When they launch into She Loves You with the authenticity of a taped recording, viewers are struck with the thought that it must be a play-back. Dalibor Štroncer (John) and Miroslav Džunko (Paul) are particularly impressive, as they sound just like the two real Beatles.

Unfortunately, the Backwards didn't take the stage alone. Everything else between the songs was a sleeping-pill the viewer could well have done without. Starting with the band's beginnings in Liverpool, the show attempts to dramatise their rise to fame in a way that is both superfluous and pathetic.

Worst of all are the two so-called actors depicting John as an adult (Štefan Kožka) and the adult Paul (Dušan Szabo). While the characters are supposed to move the audience with their musings on life and career, the result is actually quite the opposite. Kožka's cavorting about the stage and his failed attempts at humour during Help would have made the real John turn in his grave. He was ridiculous and irritating and made this viewer wish him off stage. Perhaps to ensure they stayed awake, viewers were also shown a lengthy strip tease which was supposed to illustrate the young Beatles' early gigs in Hamburg.

Neatly dressed in marine hats while performing Yellow Submarine, the best part about the dancers were the costumes. Otherwise, they were unfortunately mediocre (at times close to terrible) and failed to give a performance equal that of the music.

The real stars of the show were undoubtedly the boys from Košice, who would be better off in the future to perform without the sideshow of corny dramatisations and bad dancers. Judging from the standing ovations from the dancing audience, The Beatles' music is still going strong in Slovakia (even with the cumbersome distractions), promising a great future for The Backwards.

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