A 1964 episode of the “Ed Sullivan Show” changed America. When The Beatles debuted on the popular variety show, the country made a cultural shift. It was a time many remember well and a time that made a lasting impact. A new show at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in Olympia, “The British Invasion – Live on Stage,” encapsulates the iconic songs, fashions and pop cultural aspects of the time period. The Friday, April 1 performance is a live reminiscence of the sights and sounds of 1960’s British music portrayed through large scale images, a live band and film footage. The one-night event is part of a 40 city, North American tour.

'The British Invasion – Live on Stage' band on a stage under lights performing
‘The British Invasion – Live on Stage’ is directed by Dean Elliott and is produced by a trio of entertainment companies. The show is reminiscent of the sights and sounds of 1960s British music portrayed through large scale images, live music and film footage. Photo credit: Timothy Norris

The band will showcase some of the most popular music of the British Invasion era. The excitement for all things British, especially their music, covered all of North America, including the Pacific Coast. The Beatles were so popular on their 1964 visit to Seattle that the concert stage was raised for safety, and a plywood, barbed wire wall was erected in front of their hotel. One could even buy a Beatles wig at the local Woolworth’s department store. The Rolling Stones followed the year after and played at the same venue as The Beatles, the Seattle Center Coliseum, which is today’s Climate Pledge Arena. “The British Invasion” brings back these kinds of memories with 1960’s clothing, hairstyles and rock and roll. The performance focuses on chart topping British hits from bands such as Herman’s Hermits, The Zombies, Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Searchers and more. Songs from the Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Dusty Springfield and Dave Clark 5 are also parts of the show.

If you are a Manfred Mann fan or collected records from The Animals or Freddie and the Dreamers, you can look forward to their songs among the repertoire performed by the show’s live band. The whole performance is a multimedia event with huge projections of images from the time period, original film footage and of course the music. “Audiences are responding to the amazing set list and musicians in the show,” says Ralph Schmidtke, producer of “The British Invasion” show. “We spent a lot of time putting the costumes together to fit the time period. People are really enjoying the show.” Positive audience reviews abound on “The British Invasion Live” Facebook page with gleeful reports of it being a great time, like walking down memory lane, delivering hit after hit and described as a rockmentary.

The British Invasion Tour band with a black background
The live band is made up of an extremely talented and creative set of actors and musicians. They are portraying the 1960s cultural phenomenon, and they are also serious, full-fledged musicians. Photo credit: Timothy Norris

The live band is made up of an extremely talented and creative set of actors and musicians. They are portraying the 1960s cultural phenomenon, but they are also talented musicians in their own right. Actor, songwriter and musician Brittneyann Accetta has been in other stage productions such as “The Office!” and “Aladdin!” and performs with her band all around the New York state area. Jonah Bobo, a New York City musician and theater artist plays bass guitar and contributes vocals. Teddy Grey, who sings, plays guitar and keyboard, is also a writer, actor and songwriter. Having written a short film soundtrack and worked in both television and film, Tanner Hake does vocals and plays the guitar and keyboard. Drummer Billy Harrington, is a full-time drummer and has also lectured about and published writing on famous drummers. Playing guitar and on vocals is Martin Martiarena who not only directs musicals, but also directs the guitar departments of two Chula Vista schools and leads a Beatles cover band. And originally from Washington state, actor and activist Shannon McEldowney plays keyboard and sings.

“The British Invasion – Live on Stage” is directed by Dean Elliott and is produced by a trio of entertainment companies. Quatro Entertainment is behind numerous North American shows such as “Dirty Dancing” and “Rock of Ages.” Maple Tree Entertainment, producer of “The Simon and Garfunkel Story,” is a producer of musicals, dramas and music events both worldwide and in the United Kingdom. Right Angle Entertainment is also the producer of immersive shows like “CLUE Live!” and fun productions such as “America’s Got Talent Live!” and “The Price is Right Live!”

“The British Invasion – Live on Stage” is the work of creative producers, led by a talented director and performed by a well-versed group of musicians. Music and memories from the 1960s rock and roll era wave of British culture and iconic images will be a fun evening out.

The Washington Center box office is open Tuesday through Friday from noon to 5:30 p.m. and two hours prior to any event. Call 360.753.8586 or email boxoffice@washingtoncenter.org for more information about the show. Check out their “The British Invasion – Live on Stage” webpage for seating and ticket information. Admission for the 7:30 p.m., April 1 show ranges in price from $25 to $69.


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