"Now, ladies and gentlemen, honored by their country, decorated by their Queen, and loved here in America, here are The Beatles!" - Ed Sullivan, Shea Stadium
The excitement in the audience is palpable as the stage at the Oriental Theater hosts a scrim with images relating to the Beatles - there’s Shea Stadium, an Abbey Road street sign, and a peace symbol. The lights dim and a video starts playing with newspaper clips of Beatles headlines accompanied by screaming fans. For some, seeing RAIN is a chance to remember the years of the British Invasion. For others, the show is a chance to experience the Beatles because they weren’t around the first time. Whichever category you may fall into, RAIN is a fantastic reenactment of some of the Beatles greatest hits.
Broadway in Chicago brings the California-born Band to Chicago
RAIN started out as just a Beatles cover band. The original members had a regular gig playing at a bar in California. Soon the group had a loyal following, developed a reputation, and started touring. In 2005, the band and manager started exploring the potential of turning it into a theatrical performance which lead to the 2010 Broadway run.
Since then, the group has transitioned band members, but the current men still have the same passion for the Beatles as the originals. Steve Landes, Paul Curatolo, Alastar McNeil, and Aaron Chiazza have worked tirelessly to match their Beatles personas to a tee.
Curatolo playing Paul McCartney is a perfect Paul as he is up close and personal with the mic - signature eyebrow moves and all. Steve Landes as Lennon is blowing kisses and gyrating towards the crowd. It’s hard to believe all four members playing everything live because they sound exactly like the recordings! They are also excellent at engaging the crowd and encouraging everyone to clap along and get up and dance.
Taking Us Through Beatles History
RAIN takes us through the different albums of the Beatles and popular venues they played at. It starts with their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. The five LED screens surrounding the band members makes it feel like you’re back in the 60s watching them on your television sets at home. The guys match the original Beatles move for move from this iconic performance, especially with their rendition of “She Loves You.”
Then we move to Shea Stadium in front of thousands of fans for “Day Tripper” and “Ticket to Ride.” In between, the audience gets a chance to sing along to “Yesterday” and show off their dance moves during “Twist and Shout.” McNeil rounds out the first act with an exceptionally well done “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Absolutely stunning sound and visual accompaniments during this song!
In the second act, we move to the Beatles’ concept album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. RAIN is celebrating the 50th anniversary of this album by playing it for the audience in full. The costumes during this part are absolutely spot on as they replicate the costumes on the album cover. The LED screens are also fantastic during this part as the add some psychedelic elements like lava lamps and peace signs, as well as add in some story videos during “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”
Can’t Have ‘Em All
The only disappointment this reviewer had was the omission of some Beatles classics like “Let it Be” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Though, in the program there lists many Beatles’ songs that weren’t played during the show. Perhaps the group changes the set list around. Regardless, all the songs RAIN chose to include in their tour are memorable for sure!
The show isn’t like Jersey Boys or the 70s musical Beatlemania that puts a story to the band’s music. It really is more like a high tech Beatles concert. But the crowd loves it. There wasn’t a single person who wasn’t standing at the end of the show as the band launched into “Here Comes the Sun” and “Revolution.” And just like any other concert, be sure to stay for the encore! RAIN is a fun concert type of theatrical event good for any Beatles fanatic.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves
Note: An excerpt of this review now appears in Theatre in Chicago.
Now through Sunday April 2
Wednesday at 7:30pm
Thursday at 7:30pm
Friday at 7:30pm
Saturday at 2:00pm and 8:00pm
Sunday at 2:00pm and 7:30pm
The Oriental Theater
24 W Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices, the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and on Broadway in Chicago’s website
Courtesy of Broadway in Chicago