Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles
A razzle-dazzle tribute to the Fabs hits Broadway.
Mon Nov 1 2010
Photograph: Cylla von Tiedemann
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
Young men dressed as British coppers stand on guard outside the Neil Simon theater, setting the tone perfectly for this razzle-dazzle tribute to the Beatles. With unfailing perkiness, Rain takes you through the key eras of Fabness, restaging such milestones as the group's U.S. debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, and imagining the performances the band would've given had they not quit performing live pre--Sgt. Pepper's. The idea, of course, is to take you there, make you feel like you were really one of the screaming thousands at Shea Stadium; to do so, the production mixes nifty set design with actual footage of Beatlemania. Between sets, giant screens beam up TV ads from the era—meaning you get to contextualize the band's development, and George has time to put on a ludicrous fake beard.
And what of the individual players? Joey Curatolo turns in a terrific Paul; a little cheesy (and therefore more like Sir Paul is now), but vocally, he's double-take perfect. Steve Landes's John looks a little like Ozzy Osbourne in a white suit but turns in a thunderous performance of "A Day in the Life," and the actual playing is magnificent.
Often the band encourages its (largely silver-haired) audience to get to its feet for rockier numbers, generating something of a cruise-ship vibe, not helped by the oh-so-literal visuals projected behind the band during songs from its psychedelic era (raining strawberries in "Strawberry Fields," Eleanor Rigby's actual tombstone).
In the year that John Lennon would have turned 70, one imagines the singer horrified (or at least shocked) at being cast as an entertainer, grinning and high-kicking on a Broadway stage; it was Lennon, after all, who described the early group as "the biggest bastards on earth." And yet, to use his parlance, you'd have to be a stupid git to begrudge so many Beatles fans having so much fun.
Neil Simon Theatre. Music by the Beatles. With Steve Landes, Joey Curatolo, Joe Bithorn, Ralph Castelli. 2hrs 20mins. One intermission.