Well, that was an interesting wrap on Starlight Theater’s “Broadway” season. Rain A Tribute to the Beatles is an elaborate cover band, replete with no less than five costume and set changes and accompanying multimedia elements to aid in recreating the widely beloved Beatles. Thus Rain is more concert than musical. Not necessarily a bad thing right? In theory no, especially for fans of the Beatles. That’s to say if you are okay attending a concert with your grandparents and keeping the volume to a timid 5, out of the very obvious rock n roll level of 11.
I think that is what dampened my overall experience with Rain. This was a theater crowd stuck at a rock n roll show. Thus it’s all sit down all the time, until the band practically begs every one to stand up and get into the tunes. Bless those of you in the audience willing to go it alone and do the solo jam out figuratively standing out among the crowd. Oddly when the band did get the theater to come together and stand, there would be a mass sit down as quickly as the tune ended. This killed any energy that seemed to build as the crowd got into the show to come to a screeching brick wall colliding halt.
It wasn’t necessarily the fault of the players that formed Rain. The five players, yes there was a “fifth Beatle” in the form of a keyboardist who was kept in the shadows while the would be Fab Four sucked up the spotlight did well enough. Their recreations of The Beatles’ iconic tunes performed live were good. I didn’t care for some of the minor tweaks and added solos thrown in, call me a purist I guess, but the glued to their seats crowd seemed to eat it up. The sound mix was hampered by a heavy dosage of bass from my vantage point that at times would drown out the rest of the mix. I guess the technical difficulties experienced at the opening of the show were an omen of things to come.
Being that this was a tribute act they don’t always put on the act of playing the band they are um, playing. Taking a few very brief pauses from the music to discuss the band and have some light banter with the crowd. This lead me to a few odd moments where I thought I was watching The Beatles, well not The Beatles but a good representation of them, only to have the illusion shattered when they bring up George Harrison’s death nine years ago, or hear “Paul” talk up KC barbecue. Thanks for the approval, the affirmation that KC has the worlds best BBQ is always appreciated, but I digress.
The multimedia elements of the show didn’t do much to add much to the show. Being that this is a “tribute” act the media created was either created for the show or culled from private sources with footage of the band and places. The media comprised of animation, film, and sound consisting of clips to help take you back to the time when the music being played ruled the day and captured the imagination of nearly the entire world. Most of it was generic stuff comprising of clips from shows and fads that existed at the time or news footage. The stand out stuff for me were the commercials sprinkled in that had my Mad Men loving mind working overtime wondering “Would Don Draper had come up with this?” and if so surely their had to be a hidden subtext working that I didn’t pick up on at surface value. A distraction from the show but I think I was thinking too hard.
The media presentation was hampered by the puny screens that flanked the large Starlight Stage. It made the show feel like it wasn’t usually staged in such a large venue, though this is just my guess. Some of the animation used also lacked some of the high production values of other shows and felt dated. It sort of achieved adding to the show but not much, it could use some work.
All in all Rain, A Tribute to the Beatles seems to try being a couple of things at once and doesn’t really succeed. Was it a rock show? In my estimation it was far to tame. Was it a musical? no. That is to say a jack of several trades leaving it a master of none. Though for it’s effort it can be fun to relive the tunes of what one could arguably say was the last great band to truly capture the minds and imaginations of the entire world and many generations since and to come.
Rain A Tribute to the Beatles is at Starlight through Sunday.
I give “Rain A Tribute to the Beatles 2 “girl pants, vest, and zippers” out of 5
By John Coovert