Musical Theatre Review Print



Rain - A Tribute to the Beatles Is the Next Best Thing to Hearing the Four Lads from Liverpool Live

November 4, 2008 - Raleigh, NC:


Broadway Series South’s fabulous encore presentation of Rain — A Tribute to the Beatles, which concludes its one-week run on Nov. 6-9, is the next best thing to hearing the four lads from Liverpool live. In fact, in some ways, it is better, because this magnificent Beatles tribute band — which includes Steve Landes as John Lennon, Joey Curatolo as Paul McCartney, Joe Bithorn as George Harrison, and Ralph Castelli as Ringo Starr, plus Mark Lewis on keyboards and percussion — performs songs from all phases of The Beatles’ career, including many hits penned after the British super-group’s last concert on August 29, 1966 in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.

Messrs. Landes, Curatolo, Bithorn, and Castelli are more soundalikes than lookalikes for Messrs. Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr. But they are note perfect; and they can really rock, even if Curatolo plays the left-handed McCartney’s bass and guitar licks right-handed.

Rain is not just a heck of a live concert; it is a true musical extravaganza, with striking scenery and scintillating costumes. (As The Beatles’ music evolves, Rain’s clothing, haircuts, moustaches, and beards change to reflect the then-current fashions.) A full-fledged multimedia presentation, Rain creates just the right mood for each of its five musical segments by artfully projecting choice snippets of news-reel footage, videos of vintage commercials, etc., on three huge overhead projection screens to recreate the zeitgeist of the tumultuous era from 1960 to 1970. Moreover, the show’s producers refilm The Beatles’ arrival in America, legendary February 1964 appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” 1965 Shea Stadium concert, etc., inserting the Beatles tribute band Rain into the movie footage and still photographs. Indeed, during the show itself, they mix archival shots of ecstatic, mostly female fans from various Beatles concerts with live video of the equally ecstatic Raleigh Memorial Auditorium audience.

Rain starts with a rollicking recreation of the Fab Four’s historic appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” continues with a potpourri of songs from A Hard Day’s Night and other Beatles’ movies, recreates portions of the band’s Shea Stadium concert, and concludes with a toe-tapping selection of songs from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” performed in the ersatz military uniforms that the group donned for the album’s cover photo. The second act covers psychedelic songs, circa 1967-68, complete with a light show, and hits from the group’s “Abbey Road” era, circa 1969-70.

The First Set (the 1964 “Ed Sullivan Show”), performed with The Beatles’ trademark mop-top haircuts in custom-tailored Saville Row suits and Beatle boots, includes: “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “All My Loving,” “This Boy,” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” The Second Set combines songs from Beatles’ movies (“A Hard Day’s Night,” “Dance with Me,” and Joey Curatolo’s haunting version of “Yesterday”) and highlights from the 1965 Shea Stadium concert (“I Feel Fine,” “Daytripper,” and “Twist and Shout”), performed in tan Nehru jackets. The Third Set, which reprises chart-toppers from the “Sgt. Pepper” era, includes: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Eleanor Rigby,” When I’m 64,” and “A Day in the Life.”

Act II begins with the Fourth Set, which includes songs from the Flower Power Era: “Hello Goodbye,” “I Am the Walrus,” “Girl,” “Mother Nature’s Son,” and a show-stopping rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with a scorching guitar solo by Joe Bithorn. The Fifth Set recreates the best of The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” period, including “Get Back,” “Revolution,” “Give Peace a Chance,” and “Golden Slumbers.” From first to last note, Rain goes full tilt, much to the audience’s delight.

After blowing the roof off Raleigh Memorial Auditorium with their explosive performance, Rain received a raucous standing ovation and encored with beautiful but bittersweet versions of “Imagine,” “Let It Be,” and “Hey Jude,” made truly haunting by the 1980 murder of John Lennon and the 2001 death from cancer of George Harrison. Thanks to Rain and other Beatles tribute bands, the 1960s musical sensations will live on. Don’t miss Rain — A Tribute to the Beatles. It will delight Baby Boomers as well as show their children and grandchildren what the fuss was all about. Steve Landes (rhythm guitar, piano, harmonica), Joey Curatolo (bass, piano, guitar), Joe Bithorn (lead guitar), Ralph Castelli (drums, percussion), and Mark Lewis (keyboards, percussion) really know how to rock the house.

Foor details on additional performances, see the CVNC theatre calendar.