Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Move over Jersey Boys. There's a new kid on your block and it's called Rain: A Tribute To The Beatles.
Just as the British invasion led by The Beatles basically ended the reign of the Four Seasons at the top of the pop charts back in early 1964 -- and we all know who won that battle -- the invasion of West 52nd Street by the vastly superior Rain deserves to do the same on Broadway. Too bad it's just a limited run.
Rain: A Tribute To The Beatles is performing just two blocks away from the storied Ed Sullivan Theater, from which the four lads from Liverpool launched their opening salvo in a campaign for American airwave supremacy. But ironically, Rain is also directly across the street from Jersey Boys, which, let's be totally honest, has always been much more about the music than its hackneyed storyline.
Unlike that Tony Award-winning Best Musical of 2006, Rain makes no pretense of having a book, and that's in part what makes this so much more satisfying. Instead, it delivers an incredibly solid, straight-forward and absolutely enthralling concert with some of the Fab Four's greatest hits almost exactly, note-for-note, the way they were originally performed. Yet, the score is packaged as a fascinating history lesson neatly encapsulating the turbulent sixties.
Close your eyes, and you'll likely think you're listening to a recording. But open them up, and you'll see performers who bear more than a passing resemblance to the real deal, particularly Joey Curatolo as Paul McCartney and Steve Landes as John Lennon. Possessing practically all of McCartney's mannerisms, looks and even voice, Curatolo nails the most prolific Beatle perfectly. Landes blew my mind in eerily channeling Lennon. (And it isn't lost on me that Rain takes a rest on December 8, the 40th anniversary of Lennon's murder, which occurred not too far north of the Neil Simon Theatre.)
If Rain is not a complete re-creation of The Beatles, it's because try as he admirably might, Joe Bithorn only gets George Harrison about half the time (which may be partially explained by obvious issues he was having with his ear-piece during the performance I attended).
If you're a regular reader of Steve On Broadway, you'll know that I count myself among the fans of the Four Seasons, but you'll also know that I'm one of millions who think The Beatles are the greatest band of all time. After being spellbound by the officially-sanctioned The Beatles Love in Las Vegas, I profess I was extremely skeptical that any other tribute show could ever compare. But like the rest of The Beatles fans there the night I attended Rain, I was up on my feet cheering this live music feast, wishing only that it could last a little longer.
While it may be among the unlikeliest of Broadway shows, Rain: A Tribute To The Beatles easily offers one of the most enjoyably entertaining evenings you're likely to experience here, there or everywhere.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
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