Paul McCartney’s stage designs for Savile Theatre go on display

April 2023
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Liverpool Beatles Museum, Liverpool, UK

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From BBC News, April 27, 2023:

A series of sketched stage designs which Sir Paul McCartney created for Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s theatre have gone on show. The drawings, which the then-Beatle created in 1966, were designs for backdrops at London’s Saville Theatre, which Epstein had leased. The previously unseen sketches were given to Liverpool Beatles Museum by an anonymous donor, who bought them for £25,000 at auction. Museum owner Roag Best said they were “a total one-off“.

Mr Best said Sir Paul was invited to come up with the designs in 1966 by Epstein, who had put on concerts by artists including the Bee Gees, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Chuck Berry at the theatre. One of his designs, featuring stars and stripes, was used as the backdrop for Motown legends The Four Tops.

The designs were annotated, including one with a warning of “slow moving machinery“, one with the note “this way up” alongside a sketch of an upside-down house and another reading: “This piece of the set falls on the stage, revealing red curtains through which performers emerge, smiling.” Another design showed 12 mirrors for “the audience to glimpse themselves in“, while a further sketch with glasses and moustaches on the backdrop has the note: “Plain comedy set. Comedian enters through mouth, not smiling, crawling.

Mr Best said the sketches had “never been seen in public before“.

We were contacted by the owner… who said he’d had the pleasure of these designs on his wall for two years and wanted other people to be able to share in it,” he said. “He is a collector and had spotted this at auction with a reserve of £3,000, but ended up paying £25,000. This is a total one-off and I think Beatles fans and art connoisseurs will love to see it.

Liverpool artist Anthony Brown, who unveiled the designs at the museum, said he had seen Sir Paul’s work before and it made “absolute perfect sense that he would do something like that“. “I think the designs are good; some are more complicated than others,” he said. “I think the most perfect one is the one they used for the backdrop for the Four Tops.

From BBC News – BEATLES MUSEUM – The 11 designs were created for use in Brian Epstein’s Saville Theatre in London
From Stage backdrop designs drawn by Paul McCartney unveiled ( – Sketches of stage backdrop designs drawn by Paul McCartney on display at the Liverpool Beatles Museum. Photo credits: Chris Neill/Beatles Museum/PA Wire

Last updated on September 18, 2023


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