Wednesday, March 29, 2017

REVIEW: Rain- Beatles Tribute

I had the opportunity to see the show RAIN, which is at the Oriental Theatre in downtown Chicago through April 2. Billed as “the next best thing to seeing The Beatles!” (Associated Press), the cast of RAIN performs a chronology of The Beatles' discography live onstage, including some very complex songs that the Beatles performed in studio, but never before a live audience.

The show was great fun and a stroll down memory lane.  It was also a great reminder of how prolific the Beatles were, and how amazing they were.  Wikipedia tells me that the Beatles recorded 407 songs, and wrote 237. The cast performed just a small fraction, and they were wonderful note-for-note renditions.  The actors also looked somewhat like their doppelgangers-- the guy playing McCartney looked a lot like him, as did George.  Ringo and John were a little less similar but still successful.

The show starts as a chronology piece-- through the use of video, they bring us to the Ed Sullivan show, where the moptopped Beatles made their American debut.

 Later in the show, the video brings us to Shea Stadium.

 In the second act, the cast performs the entirety of the album Sergeant Pepper (which the Beatles never performed in concert) in the trademarked band uniforms and mustaches and later brings us to Abbey Road where the band  records their final album. The night I saw it there were two encore sets, and the second one was an extended version of "Hey Jude".  Disappointingly, they did not play "Let It Be."  But, hey, they couldn't play EVERY song.

The cast of RAIN has been together longer than The Beatles, and their teamwork and professionalism shows.  The music is great, although it took me a while to get past the verisimilitude thing.  Although this wasn't a play, the performers are clearly acting like the Beatles, but not as the Beatles.  That is to say, we saw John, Paul, George, and Ringo, but they weren't playing as those names, and there was no idea that I should expect them to actually be them or pretend to be them.  They were themselves, but themselves acting as the Beatles.  Let's face it, I overthought it.  Once I got beyond that, I didn't have a problem. 

Buy Beatles albums on
The only thing I wasn't 100% on was the video screens.

They were used very effectively to place us in time (Ed Sullivan show, Abbey Road, Shea Stadium etc) and there were some concert videos of both audience and performers that would be displayed up there, which were engaging and also kept the people upstairs and farther away engaged.

But some of the songs had cutesy video scenarios as their backdrop, and many of those looked like they were just bad Powerpoint presentations.   I am guessing that they are remnants of previous shows from years ago.  They need to be tossed and re-done.

The rendition of Sergeant Pepper's entire album was pretty amazing, especially that last chord from "A Day In The Life"  They must be using subwoofers, because I felt a barrage of sound in my body from that one chord.

Within the first encore they played some political songs, including "Revolution" "Get Back" and strangely "Give Peace A Chance."  I say strangely because that is not strictly a Beatles song.  Lennon wrote it with Yoko during his infamous "Bed In"and released it with her.  He was technically still a Beatle then, but it was without any of the other guys.  Still it was quite moving, and very a propo considering our current political situation here in the US.

 It was a reminder of how ensconced in social change and justice The Beatles were, while at the same time making popular music gold.

No matter what your current relationship to the Beatles is, you will find something to love about this show.  There was quite a lot of singing along (both encouraged and spontaneous) At one point the singers ask everyone under 18 to sing, and the crowd gets notably quieter.


3/28 Tuesday at 7:30 PM
3/29 Wednesday at 7:30 PM
3/30 Thursday at 7:30 PM
3/31 Friday at 7:30 PM
4/1 Saturday at 2 PM and 8 PM
4/2 Sunday at 2 PM and 7:30 PM

You can also see where they will be upcoming on their website.

Here's a video of the guys from 2011 when they appeared on Good Morning America. This was 6 years ago, and they've only gotten better since.


Individual tickets for RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles at the Oriental Theatre range from $35-$75. Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at For more information, visit

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