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Renowned Beatles Historian and Raconteur Coming to Barnum Hall Friday  

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By Ann K. Williams
Lookout Staff

October 20, 2011 -- The buzz for Friday's Beatles extravaganza at Santa Monica High School's Barnum Hall just got a lot more amped up with the announcement this week that leading Beatles historian and media polymath Martin Lewis is stepping in to host the event.

A producer, writer and radio personality who's worked with the likes of Sir Peter Ustinov, the Monty Python troupe, Pete Townshend and Donovan, Lewis started his career as a protégé of former Beatles publicist Derek Taylor and wrote the extensive companion narrative for the 1998 re-publication of Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s 1964 autobiography, “A Cellarful Of Noise.”

“He's the real deal,” event producer Scott Ferguson told The Lookout Wednesday. “He's a very charming guy...He knows a lot of anecdotes, he's very funny, he knows how to work a crowd and he has an English accent.”

Ferguson credited District Visual and Performing Arts Committee member Laurie Nafshun with landing Lewis, whose accomplishments as a Beatle historian, global-scale publicist for charities like Amnesty International, radio personality and media critic span four decades.

Lewis wrote and hosted the documentary “Re-Meet The Beatles!” and produced “The Fab 40!,” celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' first U.S. visit. He's been called “the fifth Beatle,” though the nickname's more commonly associated with the groundbreaking band's publicist, Brian Epstein.

Hard-core fans might know him as the producer of the 1995 reunion of The Rutles, the lampoon of the Beatles which featured Eric Idle and Neal Innes, and in 1999, Lewis produced a special American tribute for “It's...The Monty Python Story,” which included animation featuring Trey Parker and Matt Stone's South Park characters.

Born into an orthodox Jewish family, according to his Wikipedia entry Lewis was expelled from private school at the age of 14 and went on to make a name for himself as “a renaissance man,” as the L.A. Weekly put it.

Friday's fundraiser at SAMOHI will feature popular Beatles songs – and some obscure ones – played by rock band “Father Knows Best,” a group of parents who first got together 10 years ago to play at McKinley School fundraisers.

Since then, they've branched out throughout the school district, and Friday they'll be joined by SAMOHI students providing backup orchestration. The orchestra will be redubbed “Sir George's Army” for the occasion, in honor of George Martin, who composed the Beatles' orchestral scores.

“It's such a blast for us,” said Ferguson, who also plays bass with the band, “and the kids get off on it too.”

The audience will get plenty of chances to sing along to their favorite tunes, like “Hey Jude” and “All You Need is Love,” and the show will feature special guest vocalists and instrumental performers.

Lewis, who's hosted Beatles fan conventions in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, will share stories about many of the evening's songs, which include “Strawberry Fields Forever,” I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Got to Get Your Into My Life.”

Audience members are encouraged to dress up for the occasion, as their favorite Beatle, or as “Mods” – think early-60's sophistication – or “Rockers” – same era, a lot tougher.

All proceeds from the event will go to underwrite SAMOHI's orchestral music and performing arts programs, “to enhance (the school's performing arts) tradition and move it forward,” in Ferguson's words.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m., Friday, October 21, at Barnum Hall, at Santa Monica High School.

General admission is $20, students are $10. For tickets, go to brownpapertickets .

For more information, go to the concert's website.

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