Theater Review: RAIN: A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES (U.S. Tour at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago)

by Lawrence Bommer on March 29, 2017

in Theater-Chicago,Tours

Post image for Theater Review: RAIN: A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES (U.S. Tour at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago)

SGT. PEPPER’S AT 50; LET IT RAIN

For baby boomers wanting to share their childhood with their kids, for all the true-blue or late-blooming fans of the Fab Four whose great regret is that they never got to see the world’s greatest quartet in concert, or for folks who like to watch great songs return to their source, Rain should be human catnip for rockers and rollers everywhere.

Dancing in their seats, swaying to the beats, and blissed out on this blast from the past, the ardent crowd at the Oriental Theatre actually get back their Beatles. Eschewing the formative years in Liverpool and Hamburg, this reclamation effort begins with their black-and-white debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show” (a 1964 debut seen by 73 million viewers) to the hippie splendor of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which premiered a half century ago, to the transcendental meditation phase that mingled with anti-war ballads to, well, just a final nostalgic sing-along that gets all their acts together.

Providing context and much non-negotiable nostalgia, projections, vintage commercials, psychedelic animation, costume changes, and closed-circuit coverage (which combine the actual audience with clips from the Beatles 1965 concert at Shea Stadium) bring the ’60s to life along with the music that stamped our memories. Last seen six years ago, Rain, nostalgia that moves with the times, now contains a new multi-media set with new LED effects and high-definition screens that could not be more mellow, not to mention trippy and groovy, man.

Like the long-running Beatlemania and the Cirque du Soleil’s ongoing tribute Love in Las Vegas, this life-sized, 140-minute simulation of the magnificent moppets spans their too-brief career, down to the last rooftop concert. All the classics are performed live (too many to name but how wonderfully it ends with “Hey Jude”) by the very skilled if not always perfectly matched Steve Landes, Paul Curatolo, Aaron Chiazza, and Alastar McNeil as the Liverpool legends, with Mark Beyer on percussion and keyboards. There are a few lesser known gems, like “That Boy,” sung in a studio but not before an audience that might even trigger some new nostalgia, if that’s possible.

Ironically, Broadway in Chicago’s touring retrospective has been together longer than the Beatles ever were, a testament to the persistence of fame even in tribute form. No question, this is accuracy itself, except for the fact that it’s being done in 2017 for almost three generations more than could have seen the originals. But there’s nothing like making up for lost time.

photos by Richard Lovrich

Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles
U.S. Tour
presented by Broadway in Chicago
at the Oriental Theatre until April 2, 2017
for tickets, call 800.775.2000
or visit Broadway in Chicago
tour continues!
for dates and cities, visit Rain Tribute

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