Warning: (Mostly) non-baseball post ahead! My friend Barbra invited me to go with her to see the opening night of the new Broadway show "Rain." The show is a tribute to the Beatles, so I was excited to get to go. And this also was the first time I ever attended an opening night before, so it was a lot of fun.
We got to watch a bit of the red carpet to-do before the show. Saw Sid Bernstein (who brought the Beatles to Carnegie Hall and Shea Stadium) there, as well as Chita Rivera (whose name was at the tip of my tongue, although I didn't remember her at the time.) Also saw Shelley Goldberg, the wacky puppet lady from NY1, on the red carpet. Didn't see May Pang, but I heard she was there.
But the biggest name attending the show was the singer Chris Brown. The first thing you notice is that he is breathtakingly handsome in person. The second thing you notice is the way people talk about him. Half a dozen times, I heard variations of this conversation. "Isn't that Chris Brown?" "You mean the guy who beat up Rihanna"? Yet I saw the same people who were disparagingly talking about him rush to take his picture, or ask for his autograph! Go figure.
While Barbra and I were waiting for the show to begin, we were talking about the 80s show "Rock of Ages." I said I avoided hearing most of that type of music at the time, and that I'd rather see a musical based on the music of the Smiths. (I found out later that someone already did one, but it sounds a little too artsy for my taste!)
Anyhow, onto "Rain" itself. I'm not somebody who goes to see a whole lot of tribute bands, but this show had terrific production values, backed by sound musical skills. It's not so much that you feel that you're seeing the Beatles again, but that you are reminded how good the music, and how it still holds up.
The show starts with clips of the 50s and early sixties, then show footage the Beatles landing at JFK, and go on from there to the Ed Sullivan Show, Shea Stadium, Sgt. Pepper, the studio rooftop, etc. During the Shea Stadium songs, they showed real clips of the concert, with plenty of screaming teenage girls (I always wondered if there were any guys at those shows, or if the cameras didn't just capture them!)
"Rain's" musicians play most of the Beatles songs in chronological order, with a few sections, like "Eleanor Rigby" during the Sgt. Pepper segment. Oddly, it works!
In between costume changes, they show old-time clips and commercials -- my favorite was of Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble sneaking a Winston cigarette while Betty and Wilma did all the housework!
As for the costumes, they are pretty historically accurate, down to George Harrison's underrated Sgt. Pepper hat. One of the few historical inaccuracies is that the musician playing Paul McCartney plays bass right-handed, not left-handed. But that's a minor detail, and maybe it would be too hard for a musician playing live every night to do it as a lefty.
There was a big range in ages at the show, from teenagers to seniors. But my guess is that most people at the show were too young to have seen the Beatles the first time around. After all, they stopped touring 44 years ago!
A splendid time was, if not guaranteed, had by most everybody at the show. Barbra and I both really enjoyed "Rain."
You can see pictures of "Rain" at the official website, and NY1 has video of scenes from the show.