Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles

Published: July 18th 2010
in Culture » Stage

L to R: Joey Curatolo, Ralph Castelli, Joe Bithorn, Steve Landes

Beatles fans will be relieved to know that for the most part, Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles captures the spirit of the iconic group without overreaching its bounds. The part-tribute concert, part-historical retrospective, which is playing at the Canon Theatre for a limited engagement, features four actors who look and sound like the Fab Four to varying degrees – you never forget you’re watching impersonators, but they bring the songs to life evocatively and energetically.


In a series of concerts – with a few multimedia interludes – Rain takes the audience from the group’s first Ed Sullivan Show appearance (opening with “I Want to Hold Your Hand”) through the Abbey Road album, to their final rooftop concert and many iconic moments in between. The sets are spectacular, particularly the cascade of giant projected strawberries in “Strawberry Fields Forever” (where the Fab Four perform behind a translucent screen in a swirl of teal and purple mist) and the vibrant tropical hues, palm trees and metallic-coloured suits for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Even though Joey Curatolo is the only actor who really looks like his subject (Paul McCartney), costumes and hairstyles do a good job of transforming the rest, and ironically, I thought they all had better voices than the actual Beatles.


Aside from the un-Beatle-like fist-pumping, dance moves and audience banter, the show’s only hitch is that it doesn’t seem quite sure what it wants to be. Sometimes the portrayers pretend this is an actual Beatles concert that’s come to Toronto; other times they’re so self-referential that they’re clearly paying homage; a few times they take you out of the era completely (what was with the Lady Gaga reference at the end?). The multimedia aspects alternate between animations, historical footage from actual Beatles concerts, and a couple of bizarre interludes that lay other ‘60s music over reels of period footage.


So maybe it’s better to focus on the music, not on the artistic choices. In that regard, the show is entertaining and nostalgic, and since you won’t be hearing the Beatles live anytime soon, these renditions of “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Revolution,” and “A Day in the Life” are the next best thing.




Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles runs at the Canon Theatre until August 1. For more information, visit www.mirvish.com.

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