CONNECTICUT CRITICS CIRCLE
She Loves You
Audiences Love 'She Loves You!'
By Geary Danihy
Apparently, the hottest ticket over the nest three weeks is for She Loves You!, the latest of
The Beatles retrospectives to hit the boards. According to Hugh Hallinan, Bridgeport
Downtown Cabaret Theatre's executive producer, the only tickets available for the run are for
several of the 10 p.m. Friday performances.
With so many Boomers inching towards retirement and what follows, it's not surprising that
this trip down memory lane at the Cabaret Theatre is a crowd-pleaser, for the songs
performed by an ersatz Fab-Four, backed by video-montages of the times that shook a
nation and defined a generation, resonate at gut level.
The four up there on the stage bear only a passing resemblance to John, Paul, George and
Ringo, but they have certainly captured their sound and style, and that was enough at a
recent performance to motivate many in attendance to get up and literally dance in the
The revue, complete with strobes, swirling smoke and motorized spots, covers the period
from 1964, when The Beatles first set foot on American shores to appear on the Ed Sullivan
Show (for those old enough to remember, the sight of the stiff, wooden-faced Sullivan up on
the screen evokes fond memories of the ritual of sitting in your jammies, open-mouthed, in
front of a 13-inch TV screen on a Sunday evening to watch Sullivan's parade of comedians,
acrobats, pop stars, opera divas, puppeteers and ventriloquists) to 1969, when the country
was being torn apart by race riots, assassinations and war protests.
In song after song, amped to the nth-degree, the quartet, which consists of Alan LeBoeuf as
Paul, David Leon as John, Josh Brosnan as George and Carmine Grippo as Ringo, captures
both the sound and the spirit of a cultural phenomenon that changed the face of the music
In comparing the two acts that make up the two-hour show, the first is the tamer of the two,
with more restricted use of the screens set left, right and behind the group. However, when
we reach the psychedelic era things become, as they should, visually more frantic and
frenetic and the audience's response is heightened so that, with the group's curtain call
songs, "She Loves You" and "Twist and Shout," the audience, both young and old, is
swaying, dancing and generally having one hell of a time.
The frame for all of this is not so much the biography of The Beatles as it is the visual
biography of an era, complete with black and white TV commercials (the most hilarious of
which is a Heinz pickle commercial, with a kung-fu fighting matron who tears up a restaurant
because she is served an inferior pickle), film of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King
shortly before their assassinations, San Francisco during the "Season of Love" and the street
confrontations during the Democratic convention in Chicago.
For the youngsters in the audience it was probably, at moments, a bit confusing, but that
didn't seem to matter to them for they were too busy taking their cues from their fathers,
mothers and grandparents, who were singing along, waving their arms, and high-fiving each
other. For those who lived through the era, it was both a sobering and delightful reminder of a
time when the world seemed both very young and very frightening.
The Cabaret Theatre, which for a while was on shaky financial ground, seems to have found
its direction again, a direction that is currently packing them in and providing families with the
opportunity to share in a meaningful moment in history. The formula seems to work, so much
so that the Cabaret's next show, 8-Track, which immediately follows the current show, will be
another nostalgic voyage, this time to the Disco era (the tagline for the show is "Admit it, you
feel good in polyester.") featuring the music of such pop stars as The Emotions, The
Carpenters, Barry Manilow, Marvin Gaye and, of course, The Bee Gees.
The success of She Loves You!, at least as measured by the highly vocal audience
satisfaction shown at a recent performance, and the good word-of-mouth it is most likely to
create, bode well for the Cabaret and its next show.
As mentioned, there are limited tickets available for the run of She Loves You!. For more
information call 576-1636 or go to www.DowntownCabaret.org