Artists take charge in local Beatles cover show

By Nate Linhart

“Come Together” appropriately described the Wooden Box Theater’s fourth annual Beatles Nite over the weekend.

Wooden Box Theater, an Illinois performance team, presented the Beatles Nite at the Ellwood House Museum Visitor Center, 509 N. First St., Saturday. Beatles Nite was a vivacious showcase of musical talents.

The event began with the gentle melody of “Octopus’s Garden” on a ukulele and guitar. From there, a mixture of Beatles and original songs were played.

I was delighted to hear two renditions of “Norwegian Wood.” One interpretation was mellow and more representative of the original version performed by the Beatles. It featured a peculiar yet mesmerizing instrument called a pipa. Changing things dramatically, another version of “Norwegian Wood” was done by guitarist Doug Feltz. Feltz brought his rocker influence to the song, while later showing off some of his original tunes.

Program director Daniel Sherrill took an unorthodox approach in running the show he helped create. Sherrill said the show’s schedule should be partially organized by the performers themselves.

“I let the musicians figure out the order,” Sherrill said. “It builds a bond … at the end of the night, you create that rapport.”

His goal was put to the test, and the risk paid off. Performers worked together and lent each other equipment. Some participants even volunteered to play additional, unplanned songs while the other performers were setting up.

When I think of the Beatles’ music, I never think of a hip hop performance, but the show took that path anyway. Rap artist Young Prophet busted out some impressive freestyle raps. While that’s not something the Beatles have done, it added to the creativity of the evening.

With no stage curtains in sight, the audience saw behind the scenes. I loved being able to see all the performers help one another and figure out the performance times on the spot.

The show was co-written by The Nordic Artisan Company’s Emily Nelson and Ben Roettger of the band SheepDog, which performed that evening. Wooden Box Theater’s next show is tentatively scheduled for April 12.

The theme of the next event will be Charlie’s Angels.