Thursday, April 26, 2012
Theater review: Rain - A Tribute to the Beatles at Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas
Not just a Beatles show, but one rich with history and the culture of the 1960s.
I can almost guarantee your Tuesday night wasn't as rockin', rollin' and fun-filled as my Tuesday night ... unless you also attended Rain - A Tribute To The Beatles (presented by Dallas Summer Musicals at Music Hall at Fair Park through April 29). Whether or not you're a die-hard fan who knows every lyric and every guitar lick, The Beatles' influence on world culture and music as we know it today is impossible to deny. My guest and I sat through the wonderful two-hour set and were still able to list a litany of songs that weren't performed by the close of the show. Who besides The Beatles had that many hits?
I am 38 years old and my taste for The Beatles has only ripened and fully developed in the past few years, but the variety of age and demographic groups on display at Fair Park last night proved their appeal is boundless. Special notice, which included a group sing-along of "When I'm Sixty-Four," was paid by the band to the dozens of patrons under the age of twenty one. And the audience camera spent several minutes capturing some of the older patrons doing their best during "Twist and Shout." Both songs were highlights during a concert full of highlights.
Rain was not your typical Broadway show in that there was no plot. It was more like listening to the best ever Beatles cover band during a concert that also incorporated authentic costumes, an amazing lighting scheme, and extremely clever video content. Rain started as a 1970s cover band originally called Reign, but then some of those members joined touring casts of Beatlemania as it came to a close in New York City, and Rain in its current incarnation is a true offshoot of its Broadway predecessor.
The show utilized a great deal of video footage that showed, for example, a simulation of the boys landing in America for the first time in 1964. While watching this video on the screens and the subsequent transition to the set of The Ed Sullivan Show, we were also watching the live performers sing songs like "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand." The multi-sensory effect was stunning and the videos brought out the underlying messages in songs like "Strawberry Fields" and "I Am the Walrus."
In addition to the Beatles video footage used throughout the show, the production team included other footage that was used primarily when the guys were offstage for a costume or mustache change. Some of this additional footage included classic 1960s television commercials for Prell shampoo, and even a short cartoon featuring Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble that promoted Winston cigarettes. These antiquities garnered many laughs from the audience and kept us rife with anticipation for whatever was to come next.
Most of the songs went in progression by album and year, so after the Ed Sullivan years we moved on to Shea Stadium and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. We then swayed through an acoustic set that included "Girl," embarked on a Magical Mystery tour and ended up on Abbey Road.
The costume changes flowed seamlessly with the evolution of the music. The costumes for the Sgt. Pepper portion of the evening were the most colorful and enigmatic. The detailing was impeccable and truly mirrored the pseudo-military garb worn by John, Paul, George and Ringo on the cover of the original album.
Each of the four primary performers in this show has shared a good portion of his life with his alter ego. Steve Landes was part of the original Broadway cast of Rain who taught himself to play guitar by age 10 simply by listening to Beatles music. Tom Teeley made his stage debut in Broadways' Beatlemania, and Mac Ruffing taught himself to play left handed to emulate Paul McCartney. Of particular note during last night's opening performance was the inclusion of Dallas' own Douglas Cox. Mr. Cox was a 16 year member of our local tribute band, A Hard Night's Day.
Rain isn't just for Beatles fans. In addition to the indelible music, the show was rich with history and the culture of the 1960s. It was appropriate for all ages, visually interesting and bound to hold the attention of both young and old alike. With less than a week's worth of performances, get your ticket to ride very soon!
Pegasus News Content partner - John Garcia's The Column
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