Joey Curatolo, Joe Bithorn, Ralph Castelli, and Steve Landes
in Rain - A Tribute to The Beatles On Broadway
(© Cylla von Tiedemann)
Joey Curatolo, Joe Bithorn, Ralph Castelli, and Steve Landes
in Rain - A Tribute to The Beatles On Broadway
(© Cylla von Tiedemann)
The music of the Beatles is brought to life in the genial concert, Rain - A Tribute to The Beatles On Broadway, now at the Neil Simon Theatre. The show is exactly what its title implies, and features a group of look-alike and sound-alike musicians performing some of the world-famous foursome's best known songs. They don't attempt any bold reinterpretations of the material, instead serving up a concert that isn't particularly ambitious but is nevertheless a crowd-pleasing spectacle that occasionally even encourages the audience to sing along.

Lead vocals are shared by Joey Curatolo, who occupies the Paul McCartney position in the band, and Steve Landes, who is styled after John Lennon. Curatolo has an amiable grin that just doesn't quit, and capably sings a large number of hits from "I Saw Her Standing There" to "Let It Be." Landes also has a strong presence, and his rendition of "Strawberry Fields" is one of the highlights within the two-hour-and-fifteen minute show.

Drummer Ralph Castelli, the Ringo Starr stand-in, gets the vocal lead on the nicely delivered "With a Little Help from My Friends," while Joe Bithorn, as the George Harrison figure, is the primary singer for the dynamic, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." A fifth musician, Mark Beyer, plays keyboards and percussion. He's dressed in black, never sings, and is rarely lit up, so as to preserve the illusion of the four-person band.

Curatolo, Landes, Castelli, and Bithorn change outfits and hairstyles frequently during the show to fit the evolving looks that the Beatles went through from their initial appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show to their iconic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band costumes, to the image on their studio album, Abbey Road, and more. No costume designer is credited, presumably because the clothing mimics the original outfits by the Beatles so closely, although Robin Robinson and Russ Lease are listed as costume coordinators. Some of the changes happen fairly quickly and unobtrusively, while others take longer and require pre-recorded video segments, projected onto the screens on either side of the stage, to cover.

In fact, Darren McCaulley and Matthieu St. Arnaud's overall video design is a large part of the show, and incorporates documentary footage, trivia questions, hilarious period commercials, live footage of both the performers and the in-house audience at the Neil Simon, and original music videos that correspond to some of the songs that the Rain cast performs.

Over 30 of the Fab Four's songs are featured in the show, but out of necessity the performance doesn't include all of the band's tunes -- not even some of the biggest hits. My theater companion was surprised that "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" wasn't performed, and individual audience members are certain to miss other favorites. Still, fans of the Beatles' music are likely to be entertained, although those expecting something more substantial from a Broadway show may walk away disappointed.