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Concert Review: Huntington's APA puts twist on Beatles' album

November 12, 2013|By Michael Miller
  • Amanda Christidis performs "Revolution 1" during the Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Art's performance of the Beatles' White Album at the First Christian Church on Nov. 7.
Amanda Christidis performs "Revolution 1"… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

In 1966, John Lennon made an infamous — and, by his reckoning, misunderstood — comment that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus now."

Thursday night in Huntington Beach, the Fab Four met religion again, and it was evident which side won.

At the opening of a two-day engagement at First Christian Church, the Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts performed the group's self-titled 1968 double album, better known as the White Album, from top to bottom. On 29 of the 30 songs, the students stuck with the original lyrics and arrangements, or at least as much as possible (sadly, there was no animal on hand to oink at the end of "Piggies").

When the ensemble got to Paul McCartney's rocker "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?", though, the lyrics mysteriously morphed to "Why Don't We Go Out in the Road?" On the screen above, a photo montage showed students goofing around in the middle of the street — vacuuming, eating, sleeping, clutching a stuffed animal and more.

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I wondered if the theological setting had anything to do with that change. After the last song, I flagged down teacher Jamie Knight, the show's co-director, and my hunch turned out to be correct.

"We felt that on 'Why Don't We Do It in the Road?' it just didn't feel appropriate in the church, and that was all," he said, adding that the presence of the church's congregation members in the audience played a part in the decision.

That minor edit proved to be the only conservative move of the evening, meaning that lyrics from "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" ("Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face / and in the evening, she's a singer with the band") and "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" ("When I hold you in my arms and I feel my finger on your trigger / I know nobody can do me no harm") stayed in the set. And I'm old enough to remember when administrators considered Bart Simpson T-shirts too edgy for school.

What Thursday's show proved, more than anything, was what an out-there creation the Beatles' double disc really is. Compared to an effort like "Rubber Soul," which shows the band soberly crafting a masterpiece, the White Album sounds like the work of four rambunctious kids trapped in a musical arcade all night.

Tape loops, barnyard noises, every imaginable genre from vaudeville to country to heavy metal — it's a work of delirious fun, however much the band may have bickered between takes.

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