“We didn’t like to do pantomime”
The Beatles have done weird things in their 10 years together, but their Christmas show definitely tops their bizarre list. The Beatles Christmas Show was the brainchild of group director Brian Epstein. Performances took place at the Astoria Cinema in Finsbury Park, London, and began on Christmas Eve in 1963. 100,000 tickets sold. It is safe to say that they have been a smash hit.
In fact, they were so successful that they continued until January 1964.
What was âThe Beatles Christmas Showâ about?
The Beatles Christmas Show was part musical performance, part British pantomime, an act involving music, jokes and slapstick comedy based on a children’s story or fairy tale, usually Christmas themed.
The group performed a few songs, then escaped backstage to don their pantomime costumes. Meanwhile, Epstein’s other acts took to the stage. After their pantomime, the group raced backstage again to get back into their normal Beatles costumes and returned to the stage for their finale.
âWe didn’t like doing pantomime,â said George Harrison (per Mental Floss), âso we did our own show, more or less like a pop show, but we kept showing up every few minutes dressed. â¦ for fun.”
John Lennon was “Sir Jasper”, the villain, who wore a black cape and a black mustache. Paul McCartney was the good guy, “Fearless Paul” the flagman. George Harrison played the distressed girl and wore a head scarf. Ringo Starr, well, he got the very Ringo-like role as the only real pantomime in the sketch, the “special effects”. He played rain, snow, or whatever effect they needed in the room. When he played the “Snow”, Ringo reached for a container of snowflakes and threw them all over the stage and his fellow Beatles.
âThe basic plot: Sir Jasper (John) kidnaps the helpless girl (George) and ties her (him) to the railroad tracks, before Fearless Paul (Paul) enters and saves (him). Meanwhile, Ringo as “Special Effects” adds some humorous effects, “Mental Floss wrote.
Like their musical acts, The Beatles couldn’t really get through the whole skit without prompting screams from their female members. So the group couldn’t get along, but they still put everything in place.
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The female audience loved every minute but the male audience heckled the group
While the female members of the audience loved the show, the men saw through the skit. Mental Floss wrote that the skit was “so hokey that the men in the audience actually heckled the Fab Four.” (There are footage of the Beatles heckling during the skit at a performance, and Lennon shouting “Shut up!” To the hecklers.) “
âThe Beatles were never much for rehearsals,â Tony Barrow said, the group’s publicist. “It never really mattered when it came to the songs, but the fact that they were so bad at doing the sketches was a plus for the show – it was organized chaos, but it was a very funny chaos. “
âLet’s face it,â said Paul, âthey would have laughed if we had just sat there and read the Liverpool phone bookâ.
The Beatles Christmas Show was hoaky, but it was a success. So the group agreed to do it once again.
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The first shows were successful, so the Beatles agreed to do another Beatles Christmas show in 1964.
The first concerts being such a success, the Beatles agreed to do Another Beatles Christmas Show in 1964. The show had a similar format. However, The Beatles were even bigger stars this time around than the year before. They had already been around the world, including the United States. Beatlemania was in full swing.
Which begs the question: why did they agree to do a second show? Obviously, the world’s most famous band didn’t shy away from doing outrageous skits wearing equally bizarre costumes. âJohn wore a blonde woman’s wig with braids. Paul and George each wore Victorian outfits, and Ringo wore a lion costume, with a lion’s mane draped around his head, âMental Floss wrote.
It was once again a huge success. However, in the end, or maybe from day one, The Beatles realized that was not what they wanted to do. They wanted to be a believable group. When Epstein announced the following year’s show and the skits it would be presenting (Cinderella, Mother hen, and Little Red Riding Hood), the group firmly declined.
At least the band’s paying fan club members were able to receive The Beatles’ Christmas records for the next two years. It was just as cheesy and weird.