“Rain”: A Tribute to the Beatles on Broadway

*I saw “Rain” back in February, but I recently reviewed it for class. I liked my review so I thought I’d post it.*

Walking into “Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles on Broadway” is like walking into an actual Magical Mystery Tour. The two and a half hour show chronicles the Beatles’ rise to international fame as well as their evolution into the political voice of a generation through 31 carefully selected hits.

The sold out show at the Brooks Atkinson Theater was a marriage of generations—there was smiling, dancing, singing and yes, even crying when the fake Fab Four played “Let it Be” after a black and white video montage of the Vietnam War era turbulence. The musical turned concert strung itself together with these video clips. The show opened with a reenactment of the historic performance on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” moved into the 1965 (and first ever) concert at Shea Stadium. After a 20 minute intermission the boys came back out in their psychedelic finest playing hits from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and then costume changing again to end the show in their “Revolution”-era finest. Complete with the iconic “John Lennon” circular glasses and a very loud, very long audience sing along to “Hey Jude”—but not before reminding the audience to “give peace a chance.”

But that was the whole point of the show—to blend time and people together—to create a musical haven where “living is easy with eyes closed” and singing and dancing are encouraged with shouts of “dance with me” from the Paul character while the George character shimmied his way across stage to switch from bass to rhythm guitar.

When Steve Landes (John Lennon), Joey Curatolo (Paul McCartney), Joe Bithorn (George Harrison) and Ralph Castelli (Ringo Starr) decided to make their Beatles tribute a full-time gig they were very careful which songs to put on the set list. They “poured over the Beatles catalogue for weeks,” Curatolo said to the audience in his impressive fake Liverpool accent. But in the end they came up with a show that was as diverse as their audience. The Beatles’ first hits like “All My Loving” and “I Saw Her Standing There” brought life out of the older audience members, while the baby boomers caught in the middle really lit up when “Across the Universe” and “Come Together” were performed. The younger people in the crowd had just as much fun, especially when Fake Paul dedicated “When I Am 64” to anyone in the audience under 18. It was a really moving juxtaposition. Most of the Bealtes’ early fans are around 64. The two remaining Beatles Paul and Ringo have passed that musical landmark—Paul is 68 and Ringo just turned 70. The song was nostalgic for the older generations and a glimpse into the future for the younger fans.

Visually the show was stunning. From a recreated black and white T.V. with the “Ed Sullivan Show” set complete with the white arrows on the floor and Paul’s characteristic head bobbling, outlandish outfits that almost exactly matched those on the “Sgt. Pepper” album cover and of course, culminating in John Lennon’s long hair and military jacket. “Rain” is complete immersion acting. The four guys play all the instruments and music live every night. Their accents are perfect. And when they’re singing, it sounds like a recording or even the real Beatles.

The show took audience members on a stroll down “Penny Lane” and asked them trivia questions like “what were the original lyrics to ‘Yesterday’”? A 7-year-old girl in the front row knew the answer (scrambled eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs). It was a tour through the Beatles musical evolution that only proved that the music of John, Paul, George and Ringo is timeless and the great equalizer throughout three very diverse generations.

 

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