The producers of BACKBEAT, the adaptation of the cult British film, have announced that the leading roles of Stuart Sutcliffe, Astrid Kirchherr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best have now been cast.

Backbeat will receive its world premiere at the Citizens Theatre in February 2010 – fifty years after The Beatles first arrived in Hamburg. This exciting new stage play is written by Iain Softley with Stephen Jeffreys and directed by Iain Softley, the writer and director of the 1994 award-winning film of the same name.

ALEX ROBERTSON will play sensitive artist Stuart Sutcliffe, the best friend of John Lennon and original Beatles bassist who fell in love with the German photographer, Astrid Kirchherr. Their love affair had an immeasurable impact on the future of The Beatles and ended in a shocking tragedy that was to change their lives forever. Alex trained at RADA and his stage performances include Artist Descending A Staircase, Orestes, By Parties Unknown and Woman In Mind with TV appearances including BBC dramas Fanny Hill and Wide Sargasso Sea.
Alex said, “I am really excited to be part of the stage adaptation of Backbeat, not only is this a great acting challenge, but I haven’t played in a rock ‘n’ roll group since I was 18 so will be great to pick up a guitar again. I am really looking forward to taking on the all encompassing role of Stuart Sutcliffe. From what I’ve read so far Stuart was a brilliant soul and his influence and relationship with Lennon and Astrid, plus the progressive era in which the story is set, will be fascinating and thrilling to explore.”

ANDREW KNOTT will play the young and fiery John Lennon, whose jealousy of Stu and Astrid seals the passionate love triangle that is central to the play. Andrew’s TV work includes popular shows Gavin & Stacey, Life on Mars, Casualty, and he has appeared in The History Boys stage production as well as Ruling Passion and Tale of Two Cities.
Andy said, “It feels like I’ve been studying for most of my life to play the role of John Lennon. I’ve had pictures of him and The Beatles on my bedroom wall from a really young age, and have always been fascinated with the music of The Beatles and the story that surrounds them, so I feel privileged to be part of the telling of that story on the Glasgow stage.”

Emerging actress ISABELLA CALTHORPE will take on the role of Astrid Kirchherr, the enigmatic German photographer, who had a dramatic effect not only on Stu and John but also in shaping the early style and look of the band. Isabella was the original ‘Lisa Houseman’ in the UK production of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage and her film credits include 13 Hours and How to Lose Friends & Alienate People.
Isabella says, ” I am excited and honoured to be playing the part of Astrid Kirchherr in the debut production of Backbeat. To have the opportunity to play a part in the early story of The Beatles, one of the most celebrated and loved bands in history, is a privilege. I feel very lucky to be playing Astrid. Photographer and friend to The Beatles in Hamburg, she took some of their most intimate portraits and was both muse and style icon to the band. The story of her love affair with Stuart Sutcliffe is very moving and I am thrilled to be part of its telling. “

Paul McCartney will be played by DANIEL HEALY, a talented musician whose acting credits include Daddy’s Girl (Cannes Best Short Film), Taggart, Chewin’ the Fat, The Karen Dunbar Show and the Irvine Welsh film Wedding Belles. The baby of the band, George Harrison, will be played by JAMIE BLACKLEY, whose theatre work includes Hanschen in the acclaimed Spring Awakening. OLIVER BENNETT will portray original Beatles drummer, Pete Best, CHARLES SWIFT has been cast as the understudy for John, Stuart, George and Paul. KATE HODGSON will play Lennon’s then-girlfriend (later to become his wife), Cynthia Lennon,  JUSTIN MCDONALD will play Astrid’s boyfriend Klaus Voorman, PADDY LANNIGAN will play club owner Bruno Koschmider, Edward Paolozzi and other roles and ROBERT REINA will play Stu’s art teacher, Arthur Ballard, Bert Kaempfert plus other roles.

Backbeat tells the little known story of ‘the Hamburg Years’. The Beatles, on the verge of becoming the most successful band in modern times, provide the subplot for the main story, a triangular relationship between Stu Sutcliffe, the band’s original bassist, John Lennon, his best friend, and Astrid Kirchherr, the stunning German photographer who Stu falls passionately in love with. It is Stu’s struggle between Lennon and music, and Astrid and art that makes him the troubled focus of Backbeat.  Stu’s tragic death aged 22, the year before Beatlemania took hold, adds to the poignancy of this remarkable and vivid portrait of the 1960s.


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Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Box Office: 0141 429 0022 /

Tue 9 February – Sat 6 March (excluding Sundays)
Previews: Tue 9, Wed 10 & Thu 11 February, 7.30pm
Matinees: Sat 20 & 27 February, 2.30pm & Sat 6 March, 2.30pm

PRESS NIGHT: Fri 12 February, 7.30pm

Previews: all seats £4
Mondays: all seats £7
Tue-Thu: £9.50-£14.50
Fri – Sat: £10-£17


‘Backbeat is an unqualified triumph. Every frame has the ring of truth about it.  It is the best portrait of a rock band that has ever appeared on the screen.’ Tony Parsons, Daily Mirror

‘Stu is the James Dean of his day: what does it matter if he can’t play for toffee? He more than makes up that by…looking mean, moody, magnificent.’ The Independent

‘What makes Backbeat a success, apart from the rousing music, is its lively evocation of a time, a place and an artistic ambience.’ The Times

‘Backbeat recreates the sights and sound of the sixties with uncanny accuracy.’ Daily Express

‘Backbeat’s narrative strength is derived from the tense triangle of angst that emerges, with Lennon seething with envy and resentment at initially sharing, and ultimately losing his friend to Kirchherr.’ The European

‘’s a history of the period of the Beatles’ life, before all the fame and the photographs, which really shaped them, it’s a love story with a tragic ending, and it’s also a look at all the creative energy that was bursting on the scene then.’ Time Out

‘He (Sutcliffe) was the young man who thought up the ‘Beatles’ – or at least gave them the name.  His girlfriend gave them their hairstyle.’ Independent on Sunday

‘One thing mum said to me on the way to see the film was tonight I was going to meet my dad.  I was blown away by it. I thought it was very, very moving.’ Julian Lennon

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