Beatles tribute show gets a helping hand from local high school orchestra students

A local quartet is banding together to help bring an award-winning Beatles show to Oklahoma City. Four Northwest Classen High School students will join the production of the touring show, In My Life — A Musical Theatre Tribute to The Beatles, July 31 at Hudiburg Chevrolet Center. The school’s string quartet joins the professionals in an effort to bring more of an orchestral feel to the show. Northwest Classen orchestra, North Central Honor Orchestra and Oklahoma City School District All-City Orchestra are participating.

The musical serves as a storybook to The Beatles’ career and is told from a different point of view than many other tributes. Audiences experience In My Life through the eyes of band manager Brian Epstein, portrayed by Murphy Martin.

Big-time production

The show features live acting, vintage instruments and live musical performances of the Fab Four’s music by acclaimed professional tribute band Abbey Road.

The band is comprised of Chris Paul Overall as Paul McCartney, Nathaniel Bott as John Lennon, Zak Schaffer as George Harrison and Axel Clarke as Ringo Starr. The act premiered In My Life as Ticket to Ride Musical, staged for a three-week run in 2009 in California.

“The fact that this is a theatrical production differs us from the other Beatles tributes out there. The other bands do straight-ahead concert shows; just music with a little banter, which is great,” Clarke said. “We are a musical with dialogue, scene and costume changes and a fifth actor portraying Brian Epstein who guides the audience through the Beatles’ career. It is still very song-heavy, [with] about 75 percent music and 25 percent dialogue.”

Northwest Classen High School students join Abbey Road for tunes such as “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yesterday,” “A Day in the Life,” “Hello, Goodbye” and “Hey Jude.”

High school senior violinist Chelcy Giron said the most challenging part of the production will be trying not to make a mistake while performing, but she also said  the live show will be the most enjoyable part of her experience.

Class act

According to orchestra director Samantha Sy, the students were selected based on several criteria. The first thing she looks for when selecting students to perform is leadership ability.

“As I was approached for this show, I looked around my ensemble and asked myself who has really spent the last year or years becoming or maintaining a leadership role in the ensemble,” she said.

Two other traits Sy looks for are persistence and dedication. She said that “hours of practice” come with all of the fun of playing an instrument.

“I spend a lot of time among all of my students,” she said, “and considered these two qualities before choosing who would perform for this event.”

Senior violinist Diana Hernandez said this production caught her interest because it provided an opportunity to perform in an atmosphere most students don’t get the chance to experience. She said the most difficult part for her is building up the courage to perform in a show such as this but doing it alongside her classmates will be the most enjoyable.

Sisters Katherine and Laura Levescy will perform alongside Giron and Hernandez.

Sy said the Levescys are the production’s biggest Beatles fans.

In a media release about the July 31 show, Katherine Levescy said her elementary school teacher was a fan of the Liverpool quartet and introduced her to The Beatles’ music. The teacher required her students to sing at least one Beatles song at each honor choir show.

Laura Levescy’s former teacher also would bring out VHS tapes to watch The Beatles on an old television set.

The musical’s Ringo, Clarke, also professed his love for the Fab Four.

“I was a big Beatles fan before I joined the show, but that isn’t special. Saying you are a fan of the Beatles is like saying you’re a fan of ice cream,” Clarke said. “Who doesn’t like ice cream or The Beatles? Anyone who says they aren’t a fan is someone I don’t trust. They should be under surveillance.”

Clarke said the musical is an adequate portrayal of the band and presents the audience with a great tribute through humor, music and “a little drama.”

He had some advice for the young string players joining the show for the Oklahoma City performance.

“For the show, I would say just practice and listen to the songs a lot,” he said. “Then just relax and have fun. As for life advice, who am I to give advice? I wear a wig for a living.”

The show is open to all ages.

Print headline: Ticket to ride, Local high school students join a top-tier Beatles tribute act to stage the hit musical In My Life.

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