If you ask me…

- Tom Holehan

“SHE LOVES YOU!”: BEATLES BACK IN BRIDGEPORT  

 The third time was not only a charm but a trifecta for the Downtown Cabaret Theatre.  I recently had the pleasure of enjoying – for a third visit in less than three years – the Beatles musical revue “She Loves You!” now onstage at the Bridgeport theatre through the end of the month.  Nostalgia this memorable should never grow old.    
 
Divided into two parts of Beatles history: 1964-1966 and 1967-1969, “She Loves You!” is a terrific juke box musical that soars with some of the most famous pop hits ever recorded.  Try not singing along when the group hits you with “I Want to Hold Your Hand” right at the top – taking the viewer back to that golden age when Ed Sullivan first introduced the British mop tops to their American fans.  There is no “how we got there” back-story (which slows down similar revues like “Buddy”), no dramatizations of egos out of control, not even a mention of Yoko.  “She Loves Me!” is simply two hours of joyful, classic Beatles performed live and loud like it should be with some often hilarious media footage from the period inserted so the guys can make costume and wig changes. 
    
The actors playing the Fab Four are a talented quartet who sing and play instruments much like the legendary Liverpool band.  Some may look older than others but, when the musical talent is this strong, a passing resemblance is all you really need for this type of showcase to work.  New Haven’s own Carmine Grippe makes a goofily appealing Ringo who plays drums with crack authority and does justice to his only vocal, “With A Little Help from My Friends”.  Adam Hastings is a soulful John and John Brosnan perfectly in tune as George.  Carrying the majority of the vocals Alan LeBoeuf’s still-boyish Paul strains occasionally but he has plenty of charisma and hits all the right notes with classics like “Something”, “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude”.

Of the 30 odd songs collected for “She Loves You!” there’s bound to be some disappointment at not hearing favorites like “Michelle”, “Eleanor Rigby” or “The Long and Winding Road”.   But when “Day Tripper”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Nowhere Man”, “Yesterday”, “Yellow Submarine”, “Penny Lane” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” are included in the mix, who is going to complain?

Axel Hammerman has provided an expert lighting design giving individual looks for the different years representing the Ed Sullivan Show, Shea Stadium, Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper era.  The two encores provided at the show’s finale are a special plus and suffice it to say no one is going to remain seated during the ovation.  Be honest.  Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love the Beatles?

 “She Loves You!” continues at Bridgeport’s Downtown Cabaret Theatre through Sunday, February 27.  For further information or ticket reservations call the theatre box office at: 203.576.1636 or visit: www.DowntownCabaret.org.

Tom Holehan is Co-chairman of the Connecticut Critics Circle and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company.  He welcomes comments at: tholehan@yahoo.com.  His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.

                                    This review first appeared in Elm City Newspapers on 2.16.11.

 


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