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December 12, 2016

Rare and Funny Photographs From The Beatles Christmas Shows in December 1963 and Early 1964

The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein, who himself had had theatrical aspirations, conceived The Beatles' Christmas Show, a variety stage production featuring the group. It ran at the Astoria Cinema in Finsbury Park, London for 16 nights, ending on 11 January 1964.

Tickets had gone on sale on 21 October 1963, and by 16 November all 100,000 had sold out. There were 30 shows altogether, with two performances on each day, except for 24 and 31 December when only one took place. On 25 and 29 December and 5 January The Beatles were given the night off.

The first act, with five minutes on stage, were the Barron Knights and Duke D'Mond. Next came short sets from Tommy Quickly and The Fourmost, and Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas closed the first half. Following the interval there was a return from the Barron Knights and Duke D'Mond, then Cilla Black, and Rolf Harris. The Beatles were each evening's final act, with performances lasting 25 minutes.

The group's repertoire consisted of Roll Over Beethoven, All My Loving, This Boy, I Wanna Be Your Man, She Loves You, Till There Was You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Money (That's What I Want) and Twist And Shout.

Traditional British Christmas shows always included a pantomime. "We didn't like doing pantomime," said George, "so we did our own show, more or less like a pop show, but we kept appearing every few minutes dressed up... for a laugh."

The Beatles would perform a few songs, go offstage and dress up in ridiculous costumes while the other groups on the bill performed, and then the boys would perform a corny ski, a fluff "melodrama." After the skit ended, the boys would again run backstage, take off the hokey outfits as other acts filled in, and come back on stage to perform the show's finale.

"I'm changing the concept of pantomime," the show's director, Peter Yarrow, had said.

(via The Beatles Chronology)


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