"Rain" Review- A Tribute to the Beatles

“Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles”, currently in production through Broadway in Chicago at The Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, through April 2nd, is a tour of Penny Lane, a romp down Abbey Road, a chance to hear a facsimile of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Simply put, it’s a great rock and roll concert, and a theatrical production/trip of  high-level lights, costumes, assumed personalities and video. Because the live band members so obviously venerate the original Beatles and has so much fun themselves, it was easy for this reviewer to put aside her cynical expectations of “copy-cat-ism” and clap, sing and boogie with the rest of the audience.

"All You Need is Love"

Opening night, March 28th, the band consisted of:

Steve Landes, on vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica and piano as John Lennon; Landes, who at 13 fronted a Top-40 cover band, at 17 began touring with the cast of “Beatlemania”, and joined the cast of “Rain” in 1998 as Lennon, has the slain icon’s stance and intonation down cold.

- Paul Curatolo, on vocals, bass, piano and guitar, as Paul McCartney; Curatolo alternates with his father, Joey in the role, and assumes the lead on stage in this production which runs the gamut from the early cheerful love songs through the ballads of loneliness to the complex synthesized music of “Yellow Submarine”- Curatolo caught Paul’s  head-shake and the “bounce” during his effortless banter with the audience.

"Strawberry Fields"

- Aaron Chiazza, on drums, percussion and vocals, as Ringo Starr; Chiazza has been playing the drums since age 5 and studied music through high school and college- it actually seemed like he kept better time than the laconic Ringo.

- Alastair McNeil, on vocals, lead guitar, and guitar synthesizer as George Harrison; McNeil has long been known for his  band affiliations, instrumentation and adaptability- he was able to put across some of George’s quiet charm and his strong guitar leads.

- Mark Beyer, on keyboard and percussion, as George Martin, former Beatles manager and sometime accompanist; Beyer is a dab hand at the synthesizer, and did an excellent job allowing the band to play live the intricate melodies and multiple-tracking sounds only put across on their famous studio albums.

"Give Peace a Chance"

 The 2+ hour concert with intermission saw the group present some 33 beloved songs, including:

She Loves You”, “Please Please Me”, “From Me to You”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, “A Hard Day’s Night”, “If I Fell”, “I’m Happy Just to Dance”, “Yesterday”, “I Feel Fine”, “The Night Before”, “Day Tripper”, “Twist and Shout”, “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, “With a Little Help From My Friends”, “Eleanor Rigby”, ”Drive My Car”, “Got to Get You Into My Life”, “Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds”, “When I’m 64”, “A Day in the Life”, “Penny Lane”, “Blackbird”, “Across the Universe”, “Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da”, “Here Comes the Sun”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Come Together”, “Get Back”, “Revolution”, “The End”, “Give Peace a Chance”, “Let it Be”, and an encore of “Hey Jude”

"Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

 

The order of presentation, the accompanying commentary, videos, memorabilia from the era such as commercials for Winston cigarettes, and real-time large-screen band/audience capture and replay, coupled with fabulous costumes and psychedelic lighting created a nostalgic and informative series of sense impressions of the progression of the work of these unsurpassed masters of reinvention.

 The show was a very moving, a lot of fun and is highly recommended. Kudos to video designers Aaron Rhyne, Darren MCCaulley, Stephan Gotschel, (also for production and ighting design) and Christian Behm, monitor design by Andy Broughton, and wardrobe design by Susan Valdez.

"The Ed Sullivan Show"

 

 All photos by Richard Lovrich

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