Story: In February 1964 the ‘British Invasion’ of pop music climaxed with the wildly popular quartet from Liverpool known as The Beatles appearing ‘live’ on American television on The Ed Sullivan Show. For the next six years, rock music’s most famous band churned out hit after memorable hit.
Along the way The Beatles changed their musical style and upped their sophistication, altering irrevocably the face of contemporary music, from the strings-infused ballad, Eleanor Rigby, to the unparalleled success of Yesterday to the groundbreaking album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and beyond.
In Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles, four men appearing on stage as John, Paul, George and Ringo keep the memory of that famous beat alive for new generations to enjoy with their parents and even grandparents in an infectiously captivating performance.
Highlights: Rain is just one of several tribute shows to the Fab Four in the past 40 years, alongside 1964, Beatlemania and others. It’s been around since 1982, a jukebox musical that incorporates multi-media art to visually enhance the audio superiority that The Beatles brought to their music in the ‘60s.
The latest incarnation of Rain played at The Fox this past weekend, including an opening night on Friday that was attended and enjoyed by a wide range of patrons from children to senior citizens. They were such a lovely audience, and a grand time was had by all.
Other Info: This version of Rain is a slick production that utilizes newsreel footage from the 1960s as well as canned music by other groups while the on-stage performers change costumes during its two acts and two and a half hours of playing time. There’s also a clever sing-along with lyrics to When I’m 64 provided for the audience, yellow submarines floating on a screen and a hauntingly poignant visual depiction of the title character in Eleanor Rigby.
Mostly, though, it’s all about the performances of four really talented musicians who essay the roles of the Fab Four on stage. It’s good that they’re so musically gifted, because after more than 30 years of performing, three of them scarcely resemble their famous counterparts back in the day.
The exception is Joey Curatolo, who not only hits Paul’s high notes with aplomb, but carries himself with McCartney’s trademark upbeat manner and even sounds reminiscent of the likable lad from Liverpool. Too bad he doesn’t play the bass left-handed. So be it.
What Rain does well is play nearly complete versions of each of the tunes selected for performance from the daunting Beatles canon. So, while we didn’t hear I Saw Her Standing There or Lovely Rita, e.g., we did enjoy the band’s faithful renditions of A Day in the Life, Get Back, Help!, Day Tripper and many, many others. Most likely everyone in the audience left satisfied hearing a ‘live’ version of a particular Beatles favorite tune.
Curatolo shined in a solo performance on Yesterday, while drummer Ralph Castelli enjoyed his moment in the spotlight warbling Ringo’s famous number, A Little Help from My Friends. Joe Bithorn doesn’t come close to resembling George and Harrison's lean, gaunt appearance, but he plays lead guitar most effectively, sparkling on vocals with Here Comes the Sun and While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
As John, Steve Landes took turns at the piano and rhythm guitar on classic songs such as In My Life and I Wanna Hold Your Hand as well as later Lennon standards such as Revolution and Give Peace a Chance.
When it was time for the final curtain call, you knew what to expect and you weren’t disappointed with a mesmerizing version of Hey, Jude. It had the audience swaying to and fro, savoring the final chords of a concert that reminded everyone why the music of The Beatles is for the ages and for all ages.
Musical: Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles
Company: Touring Company
Venue: Fox Theatre
Dates: Run concluded