After a long and winding road (you know…the pandemic and cancelations), the Beatles are back in Philadelphia! Just hours, literally, before Covid shut down concerts and theatres across the globe, RAIN- the longest running Beatles tribute band- was set to show off the iconic Abbey Road album (released in 1969). At that time, I spoke with Paul Curatolo who performs as Paul McCartney in these shows. He told me that RAIN reaches out and unites over three generations of Beatles fans every night the curtain goes up…
Unfortunately, the curtain never went up, even though the cast of RAIN (Steve Landes, Paul Curatolo, Alastar McNeil and Aaron Chiazza) had already arrived in Philadelphia! Landes, who is from nearby Lansdale, PA, told me that just like the rest of the world, they had no idea what was happening, why, or how to deal with it. The plan back then was to cancel the first leg of the tour, then wait and see…
We waited long enough. And now, we can finally come together safely (read the Kimmel Cultural Campus health and safety policy here) as RAIN – A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES becomes the first Broadway Philadelphia show to re-open the Merriam Theater!
This performance is a blast! RAIN has been sharing the music of the Beatles since the ’70s and even had a Broadway run. The four musicians you see on stage have mastered every song in the Beatles’ catalog as well as their mannerisms and distinct sounds. Not only do these four musicians sing as The Beatles, they look like them too. Set and costume changes show the band over their years on tour and recording together. Videos and voiceovers explain their history and where you are throughout their run (and the classic commercial clips during a first set costume change were really fun to watch). You’ll be taken back in time as you step into the theatre.
The first act really encourages everyone to be a part of the show, with sing-alongs on songs like “Yesterday” (amazing!), and “Ob‐La‐Di, Ob‐La‐Da”. You’ll also be out of your seat twisting and shouting as the band takes on Shea Stadium in 1965. “Eleanor Rigby” was another stand out from set one with great visuals, and the wailing guitars to close out the first half on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” were outstanding! Keyboardist Mark Beyer is on stage as well and is featured on a couple songs, taking on any instruments that could use an extra hand as well.
Act two begins with the Beatles as they were during the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. “A Day in the Life” was great, as were “She’s Leaving Home” and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”. Each song is a mini show itself! Since this tour is highlighting Abbey Road specifically, you’ll be treated to album favorites like “Come Together” and “Here Comes the Sun”, of course. But “The End” was epic and the original version features one of the very few drum solos recorded by Ringo Starr! Don’t leave right after, because everyone needs to sing “Hey Jude” together!
I saw RAIN perform in Philly in 2018 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album and I looked forward to their return ever since. This truly is the next best thing to seeing the actual Beatles perform live. And since that’s not going to happen, any die-hard Beatles fans in the Philadelphia area should rethink their Halloween weekend plans and buy tickets to a performance. You can catch these fabulous four at Merriam Theater for three more shows- Saturday October 30th at 2pm or 7:30pm and Sunday the 31st at 1pm. Tickets available here.