'Rain' not such a Fab Four


Rain (Credit: Handout)


2.5 Stars

“Rain” is definitely the least ambitious show to play Broadway this fall.
Rather than use the songs of The Beatles as filler for a new musical, as in “Mamma Mia!” or “Jersey Boys,” it is simply an elaborate recreation of a live Beatles concert.

But then again, what can be more ambitious than for four brave musicians to try to convince an audience that they are the Fab Four — or at least worthy of pretending to be?

Steve Landes (John), Joe Bithorn (George), Ralph Castelli (Ringo) and Joey Curatolo (Paul) have literally spent their lives imitating the appearance, mannerisms and sounds of the Beatles. They all originally were part of “Beatlemania,” an earlier incarnation of “Rain” that played Broadway in the late 1970s.

Aided by numerous costume, wig and set changes — and some archival video footage and trippy graphics — they perform about 30 songs in just more than two hours. The songs trace the band’s evolution from their debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964 through “A Hard Day’s Night,” Shea Stadium, “Sgt. Pepper,” and the Abbey Road rooftop.

From purely musical and vocal points of view, the band is sensitive and masterful.

Unfortunately, the quality of sound decreases as the music grows more complex and the band becomes more dependent on an electronic synthesizer to imitate strings and brass.

The homage often feels tired and cheesy, and audience members unwilling to frequently stand up and clap along may be uncomfortable.

For fans looking for a nostalgic tribute to The Beatles, however, “Rain” certainly does the trick.

In the lobby, audience members can purchase a souvenir cast album. But why someone would purchase a CD of musicians imitating The Beatles instead of a real Beatles album is baffling.

If you go: “Rain” plays at the Neil Simon Theatre through January 9. 250 W. 52nd St., 877-250-2929, raintribute.com.

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