The Beatleshow

More than a few years ago, the idea of a tribute show encapsulated but only a couple of go-to performers. There was Elvis, of course, with Neil Diamond popping up a distant second. These were easy targets to give tribute because they were solo acts. You just needed one guy to nail the vocals and hit or miss the looks, throw in some dancing girls, lights and a group of talented musicians and you had a show. You can almost hear Mickey Rooney saying, “Let’s take it to Broadway”—that is, you can hear him if you are of a certain seasoned age. If you don’t know who Mickey Rooney is, well, you probably don’t remember the real Elvis and know that Neil Diamond is some old dude who just won’t give it up.
While the Elvis and Diamond tributes flourished there were also other tribute acts that were gaining ground with casino crowds across the land. These were send-ups to The Beatles, a much tougher act to put together. You now needed four musicians who could not only nail a voice but harmonize with the others. And one of them had to be able to play the bass guitar left-handed. The looks were not all that important because, well, you put on some mop cropped hair or goofy marching band outfits and you were covered. However, some of the early tributes really concentrated on all facets of the show.
There were “Fab Fours,” “Mop Tops,” “Rubber Souls,” and the Broadway tinged “Beatlemania”… all wanting to hold your hand and let it be.
The reason for The Beatles getting a big nod in the tribute world was obvious. They were the vanguards of the British Invasion that changed the musical landscape for good back in the early ’60s.
This makes for a nice nostalgic element to the show. There are plenty of potential audience members who would love to do nothing better than rekindle all the excitement and energy that made up those crazy years. “The Ed Sullivan Show” of 1964; the “power to the people” and “peace in our time” feel; the sitar and Ravi Shankar; “obla di, obla da” and life goes on…
There was also the more important element of the music. The Beatles were as prolific as any group could dream to be. And they were all over the board, stylistically, creating some of the best songs of any era.
So with nostalgia and good music of the kind that can cover a four-day show let alone an hour and a half one, tributes to The Beatles were a natural…and they have flourished. There is even a high-powered Cirque du Soleil tribute to the group playing Vegas and a wonderful film called Across The Universe that has attained cult status along the lines of Rocky Horror Picture Show.
We wrote all of that to say this—”obla di, obla da, life goes on” in the form of one of those tribute shows, returns to play the Riverside Resort Thursday-Sunday, My 11-14 in Don’s Celebrity Theatre.
“The Beatleshow” is jointly produced by Leonard Quenneville, Mick McCoy and David Saxe. Quenneville may be a familiar name for our readers because he is the guy behind other tribute shows that recently played the Riverside Resort in “Country Superstars” and “Ain’t Going Down – a Tribute to Garth Brooks.”
According to Quenneville, “Beatleshow” is not new to playing the casinos and other venues.
“This show has been going on for 14 years,” Quenneville said. “It always gets a standing ovation—it’s like candy, it’s infectious. For Beatles’ fans, it connects with them at a very deep level.”
The cast includes Mick McCoy as John Lennon, Joshua Jones as Paul McCartney, Robbie Berg as George Harrison and Richard Lewis as Ringo Starr.
“The show includes every Beatles’ era,” explains Quenneville. “From the ‘Ed Sullivan Show,’ through the psychedelic Sgt. Pepper period, and all the way to Abbey Road, their 11th studio album that was the last recording sessions in which all four Beatles participated.”
According to Quenneville, all these facets of The Beatles career are not presented simply as sets of songs with costume changes. There is dialogue and support characters like Ed Sullivan portrayed by Paul Terry, Quenneville in the role of “The Beefeater,” go-go dancers, and “a few surprises.”
“The show is a chronological trip through the Beatles career and catalogue from their appearance on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ to their performance on the rooftop of the Abbey Studio,” McCoy added.
It has been performed from places like Alaska to countries like England, South America, and cities like Dubai, India.
“There are millions of Beatles fans everywhere and a show like this is like candy to them, they can’t get enough.
“With this show, the instruments used are authentic and all of our ‘Beatles’ sing and play live, the lads sing the actual harmonies in character, the way the real Beatles did it, and there are a number of songs the boys perform in the show that the Beatles never played live.”
For example the only non-Beatles song in the show is where McCoy as Lennon, performs “Imagine” solo at the piano. Another show highlight is where he provides minor string accompaniment to “Yesterday,” performed solo by their Paul, a.k.a., Jones.
Quenneville said the most challenging aspect of the show was assembling the right assortment of talented musicians.
“We’ve been blessed to acquire as much talent as we could find from around the world, and together they recreate that magical time when the music was history in the making,” he states.
But is nostalgia enough to keep things rolling? Are the younger generation still interested in discovering The Beatles?
“Kids love them,” says Quenneville. “When you look at music surveys from junior high schools and high schools across the country, the Beatles’ are still at the top of their lists.” (They were certainly a re-occuring theme on the popular show, “Glee”).
Whether that checklist holds up or not isn’t relevant. It’s just that we have a feeling this will be a warm bath of nostalgia for many in the audience who lived it the first time out. They want to compare notes for authenticity and it’s Quenneville, McCoy and Saxe’s job to see that it happens. Oh yeah, they’ll get by with a little help from their friends, Jones, Berg and Lewis.



Riverside Resort, Don’s Celebrity Theatre

Thursday-Sunday, May 11-14. 8 p.m. (See Showtimes for tickets)