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Review - 'Let It Be' Offers Nostalgic Look Back At 'Rain' and 'Beatlemania'


Broadway fans feeling nostalgic for long-ago (and not so long-ago) Beatles impersonation concerts like Beatlemania (1977) and Rain (2010) can now relive the experience of watching singer/actor/musicians imitating John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison with Let It Be, a faux four celebration that brings back all the excitement of its two successful predecessors.

And those who have only heard legend of screaming fans mesmerized by reasonably similar facial features, vintage videos of shrieking young girls filling time during numerous costume changes and passable Ed Sullivan impersonations will now have the opportunity to feel like they were really there.

A West End transfer directed for Broadway by John Maher, the creators of Let It Be have apparently paid such exacting attention to detail in their tribute to past Beatles cover band shows that the producers of Rain are currently suing for copyright infringement. A rotating cast of ten performers - two of which are veterans of Rain - play four on-stage musicians who, perhaps for other legal reasons, are never referred to as The Beatles, nor as people with proper names; referring to the drummer, for example, as "the guy back there" and the lead guitar player as "the quiet one." Even at the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever," whatever the guy with the glasses mumbles when the bass player walks off the stage doesn't sound a bit like "I buried Paul." (For the record, it doesn't even sound like "cranberry sauce," which is supposedly what Lennon really said.)

In a two-act sequence of sets taking fans from The Cavern Club to The Ed Sullivan Show to Shea Stadium, though the Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour and Abbey Road years and capping it off with the rooftop concert, the boys play about 40 songs (the Playbill does not include a song list), including expected hits like "Yesterday," "Twist and Shout," "Hey Jude" and, of course, the title song.

Aside from the fact that that the Paul McCartney role is sometimes played by a right-handed musician (see photos) and an illusion-breaking joke by the Ringo Starr character comparing LPs to CDs, Let It Be seems to deliver exactly what it intends and should surely satisfy anyone who thinks watching a Beatles cover band in a Broadway theatre constitutes a great night out. On the night I attended audience members screamEd Loudly every time one of the boys yelled, "Let me hear you scream!," raised their hands above their heads and clapped along every time they were instructed to do so and rose to their feet whenever an actor shouted, "Get on your feet!"

Next season on Broadway: Side By Side By The Beatles.

Photos by Chad Batka: Top: James Fox, John Brosnan, Luke Roberts and Reuven Gershon; Bottom: James Fox, John Brosnan and Reuven Gershon.

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