CONNECTICUT CRITICS CIRCLE
She Loves You!
BEATLES ARE BACK & SO IS DOWNTOWN CABARET
By Tom Holehan
When was the last time you went to a musical and knew every single song? Better yet, when have
you also gone to a show and been able to sing every lyric? It's the case with "She Loves You!", a
Beatles revue that currently reopened the shuttered doors of Bridgeport's favorite theatrical hot spot --
the Downtown Cabaret Theatre. Just being back at the Cabaret with picnic hamper and bottled wine
is cause enough for rejoicing. Add the Beatles into the mix, and you're doubly blessed.
Okay, so "It's not the Beatles, it's an incredible simulation". That was the famous tag line for
"Beatlemania", the long-running, multi-media Beatles show from the 1980s to which "She Loves
You!" owes a huge debt. Dividing into two parts of Beatles history: 1964-1966 and 1967-1969, "She
Loves You!" is a juke box musical in the best sense. There is no "how we got there" backstory, no
dramatizations of ego and drug abuse -- not even a mention of Yoko. No, "She Loves You!" is simply
two hours of joyful, classic Beatles music performed live and loud augmented with some familiar
media footage from the turbulent sixties. If you want a book musical, check out "Fiddler on the Roof".
Directed and designed by Andrew Empson, "She Loves You!" gets witty mileage out of the period by
interspersing the concert breaks with a few truly awful and hilarious 1960s television commercials.
You also witness grainy footage of The Ed Sullivan Show, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King
as backdrop for some of the greatest rock and roll songs of all time. To this end, the actors playing
the Fab Four are a talented quartet who sing and play instruments much like the legendary Liverpool
band. One could grouse that some members could well play the Beatles' parents at this point in their
careers, but I doubt audiences will care about the singers' looks (even while wearing some misguided
wigs) when the music on display is so memorable, so perfectly nostalgic of yesteryear.
Of the 30 odd songs collected for "She Loves You!" there's bound to be regrets (Where is "Eleanor
Rigby"? "Michelle"? "Helter Skelter"?). But what is performed is choice and awfully hard to complain
about. Alan LeBoeuf as Paul gets all the shading just right for "Yesterday" and David Leon's John
performs a quietly haunting "Hey Jude". John Brosnan (George) and Carmine Grippo (Ringo) also
have moments to individually shine, but the best work are the group numbers with gorgeous harmony
on "Penny Lane" and sturdy, raucous vocals on "A Hard Day's Night" and "Get Back". There are also
great renditions of "Let It Be", "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearst Club Band", "With a Little Help From My
Friends", "Yellow Submarine", "Daytripper" and many, many more. By the end of the evening when
the entire audience (ages 6 to 60, at least) are standing on their feet and dancing along boisterously
with "Twist and Shout", the joy is simply contagious. Why resist? Welcome back Beatles! Welcome
back Downtown Cabaret! Boy do we need you now.
"She Loves You!" continues at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre through April 13th. Many
performances are already sold out. For further information call the theatre box office at 203.576.1636
or visit: www.downtowncabaret.org.
Tom Holehan is co-founder of the Connecticut Critics Circle and Artistic Director of Stratford's Square
One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org. His reviews are also
archived on www.ctcritics.org.
This review originally appeared in Elm City Newspapers beginning March 26, 2008.