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Beatlemainia Strikes Sacramento With “Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles” at Broadway Sacramento

The latest Broadway Sacramento show “Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles” opened to a nearly sold out house at the Sacramento Community Theater Tuesday evening.

“Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles” opens with archival film of the Beatles’ first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” projected on two large screens flanking the stage. As the curtain rises, the band breaks into a set of the earliest Beatles music. The audience breaks into screams.

Joey Curatolo as Paul McCartney, Joe Bithorn as George Harrison, Ralph Castelli as Ringo Starr, Steve Landes as John Lennon

This is followed by a set of more early music timed to the Beatles’ Aug. 15, 1965, Shea Stadium concert. The two large screens, plus a much larger screen at the back of the stage, and some props and lighting effects set the scene very well. It is still interesting after all these years to see the effect the Beatles had on their fans with large numbers of girls fainting and being carried off.

Joey Curatolo as Paul McCartney, Joe Bithorn as George Harrison, Ralph Castelli as Ringo Starr, Steve Landes as John Lennon

The curtain drops for each scene change while programming on the big screens set the tone for the following scene. As the show moves into “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and the psychedelic period that followed it, everything becomes, well, incredibly colorful, including the great reproduction costumes of Sgt. Pepper and the psychedelic light show.

Ralph Castelli as Ringo Starr, Joey Curatolo as Paul McCartney, Joe Bithorn as George Harrison, Steve Landes as John Lennon

While modern video and lighting play a big role in recreating the feeling of Beatles concerts, “Rain” is all about the music. The creative team and cast are all about recreating the music to as exacting precision as possible.

The band Rain, or Reign as they were originally known, started out as a cover band in Southern California that loved doing covers of the Beatles more than anything. They evolved into doing nothing but Beatles covers. They may have remained a simple cover band if not for the success of “Beatlemania” on Broadway. When that show closed, several cast members joined “Rain” and it eventually it became an official spin off of “Beatlemania.”

The current cast consists of Steve Landes as John Lennon, Joey Curatolo as Paul McCartney, Joe Bithorn as George Harrison and Ralph Castelli as Ringo Starr, along with Mark Beyer on additional keyboard and percussion. It is nearly impossible to single out any one of these American-born cast members. Besides having to perform vocals sounding exactly like their Beatle counterpart, they each have to play the full range of instruments played by that Beatle. Oh, and they have to speak with correct British accents when they speak to the audience. On songs that featured Lennon, Landes sounded hauntingly like him.

Joe Bithorn as George Harrison, Steve Landes as John Lennon, Ralph Castelli as Ringo Starr, Joey Curatolo as Paul McCartney

How much each performer looked like their counterpart varied from scene to scene, but Curatolo as McCartney really looked like him throughout the show. He has, in fact, won Paul McCartney look-alike contests over the years.

The “Rain” tribute runs through “Abbey Road,” the last album recorded by the Beatles. They perform over 30 Beatles songs, including some that were never performed live by the Beatles. The Beatles ceased to be a group on Dec. 31, 1970.

Joey Curatolo as Paul McCartney, Joe Bithorn as George Harrison, Ralph Castelli as Ringo Starr, Steve Landes as John Lennon

For much of the audience, “Rain” was a trip down memory lane. To the younger generations, it is a musical history lesson. Interaction with the audience between songs by the band made it clear that there were at least three generations or more in the audience. We were invited to sing and clap along. We were invited to dance in our seats. It was great fun to watch Boomers now in their 60s acting like they were still in their 20s.

“Rain” is a theatrical spectacle just as much as it is a concert of some of the the best music ever written and performed in the last century. There have been countless covers of Beatles music by performers of great stature over the years, but no one does their music as perfectly as the cast of “Rain.” If you never got to see the Beatles live, here is your chance. You will get a feeling of what the shows looked like, and you will get a perfect sound of what they were like to hear (probably better given the acoustics of today’s venues).

Joey Curatolo as Paul McCartney, Ralph Castelli as Ringo Starr, Joe Bithorn as George Harrison, Steve Landes as John Lennon

If you love the music of the Beatles, want a look back at another time or just want to know what all the fuss was about, don’t miss “Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles.” But do act quickly. The whole run is heavily sold and there is limited ticket availability.

“Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles” Broadway Sacramento
Sacramento Community Center Theater
Through January 1, 2012
More Information and Tickets

 

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