April ‘Rain’ brings Beatles music for Broadway in Chicago remaining weekend run

By PHILIP POTEMPA
Of Notoriety


The last time I saw the Broadway national tour “Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles” it was June 2012 at the Oriental Theatre. Prior, I had seen a performance of the production in March 2009 at the cavernous Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

 

And now, “Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles” is back in Chicago, for a quick run through Sunday, April 2, once again booked at Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St.

 

The concept for this nearly two-hour and 30 minute concert, including a 20-minute intermission, is to transport audiences to the days of screaming fans responding to some of the most popular songs and music ever to cross the pond.

 

 For this visit, it’s an entirely different cast of four in the spotlight compared to the 2012 visit which featured Chicago’s own Jim Irizarry as “John,” Mac Ruffing of Cleveland as “Paul,” Douglas Cox of Kansas City on drums as “Ringo” and New Yorker Tom Teeley as “George.”

Back in 2009, the show consisted of Joey Curatolo aka Paul, Steve Landes aka John, Ralph Castelli aka Ringo and Joe Bithorn aka George. This concert concept was created by Landes, Bithorn, Curatolo and Castelli, along with Mark Lewis. (The concert announcements go to great lengths to remind the audience that the foursome does all of the singing “without the aid of prerecorded lyrics.”

 

For this return to the Windy City, creator Landes is back on stage, leading the fun joined by Paul Curatolo, Aarron Chiazza, Alastar McNeil and Mark Beyer.

 

The group performs the full range of The Beatles’ discography live onstage, including, what press materials say, are some songs that are “the most complex and challenging songs that The Beatles themselves recorded in the studio but never performed for an audience.”

 

I’m also told this singing group “Rain” has remained “together longer than The Beatles,” that latter having earned legendary status and forever fans after bust one decade together. The name “Rain” comes from the song by the same name first released in May 1966 as the B-side of the “Paperback Writer” single. (Both songs were recorded during the sessions for the album “Revolver,” although neither ever ended up on that album.

 

From the early hits to later classics, offerings range from “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Hard Day’s Night,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Let It Be” to “Come Together” and “Hey Jude.”

 

The show covers the Fab Four from their very first appearance on Ed Sullivan‘s variety show through the Abbey Road album and through the psychedelic late ’60s and their long-haired hippie, hard-rocking rooftop days.

 

Fans of all ages quickly find themselves on their feet at this show and captured under the spell of these performers, much like mesmerized so many people during the music span dubbed “the British Invasion.” I think it’s a good show idea with an energy that is contagious. I also like the fusion of historical footage and vintage television commercials from the 1960s displayed on large video screens, as live cameras zoom in the audience for close-ups.

 

“Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles” does entertain and serves to remind about the group’s musical progression and show-biz climb of the band to a zenith when more than 55,000 fans crowded into New York’s Shea Stadium as The Beatles arrived at the 1965 World’s Fair venue by helicopter and then were whisked into the stadium in a Wells Fargo armored truck with girls swooning as more than 2,000 security officers fought back the fans.

 

Remaining performances are at 7:30 Friday, and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $35-$75 at (800) 775-2000 or BroadwayInChicago.com.


Philip Potempa is a veteran journalist and published author. He can be reached philip@ofnotoriety.com.