Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Beatles? Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Cleveland Press October 11, 1979

The Beatles are gone but the myth lives on. Their music is everywhere but the nearest you will get to the myth, to a very small taste of the very large excitement that pervaded an era of entertainment, is visiting "Beatlemania," a show that opened at the Palace last night.

This is a multi-media show and the best multimedia show I have seen. The term covers a multitude of sins but here everything works.

The show consists of four performers who imitate the Beatles. An evening of imitations could be grotesque but this isn't.

The performers are good, the music they play is the best of its type and that ingenious multi-media setting puts them back in their time.

Thousands of still pictures, innumerable clips from newsreels, headlines in moving lights, flashing lights, rear and front projections that surround the performers with images all create a sense of the 60s.

It would be ample to dismiss it for the imitation that it is, for the ear-shattering sounds that fill the theater. It is neither a concert nor a theater piece.

But it is not a ripoff either.

Nor is it merely capitalization on nostalgia.

I covered both of the Beatles concerts in Cleveland and I hate to think that I could be nostalgic about something that happened such a short time ago.

I was too old for the Beatles even then, and obviously I'm somewhat older now. But somehow last night I felt less out of it than I did then.

"Beatlemania" is less a piece of nostalgia than it is a social document, an audio-visual history of the troubled, turbulent 60s.

It was a time of love-ins and assassinations, of war and of peace rallies, of celebrity worship and riots.

Starting with the "you won't have Nixon to kick around" press conference and the introduction by Ed Sullivan of the Beatles to the United States, it moves rhythmically and relentlessly through those years.

"She Loves You" (yeah, yeah, yeah) is the way it starts -- all live music, incidentally, including a back stage orchestra.

The civil rights marches, the confrontations, the smiling faces of TV stars who have come and gone flash on the screen.

The music manages to highlight the depiction of the times is part of its fabric. It was an age of love and protest, of counter culture and drug culture. "Strawberry Fields Forever" accompanies scenes of tripping out. "Magical Mystery Tour" is the background music for psychedelic images. "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" overwhelms us with comic book figures, blinding flashes of colored lights and an explosion.

"Michelle" finds us looking out of windows. "Yesterday" is Paul sitting on the stage apron accompanying himself on the guitar.

The four actor-singer-musicians are excellent -- Joey Curatolo as Paul, Bob Miller as George, Robert Williford as John and Ralph Castelli as Ringo -- two from New York and two from California.

The arrangements and instrument playing are letter perfect. The singing close enough, best in the upbeat numbers, sounding less like genuine Beatles but good anyway in the ballads.