She Loves You!

Enjoy music of 'She Loves You! but ignore images
by David A. Rosenberg

Start with this: I love the Beatles. Considered by some to be among the finest of all 20th
century musicians, their influence hasn't waned. So why is "She Loves You!," the loud,
energetic and tuneful faux-Beatles tribute concert at the resurrected Downtown Cabaret
Theater (welcome back!) less than enchanting?

Surely the evening is fodder for not only aging baby boomers but their children who
happily sway and clap and sing along to such hits as "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "Can't
Buy Me Love," "Yellow Submarine," "In My Life," "All You Need is Love," "Penny Lane"
and "With a Little Help From My Friends," among so many others. Moreover, the quartet
imitating the Fab Four are not only talented musicians in their own right, they are
experienced in recreating the sounds and looks of Paul McCartney, John Lennon,
George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

"She Loves You!" places the Beatles in historical context, beginning with photos of John
F. Kennedy. Along the way, film footage and slides whiz through snippets of tumultuous
social and cultural events, juxtaposed with the progression of the Beatles' career. Here's
a rocket take-off; there's Carnaby Street. Here are burning draft cards, the Chicago riots,
LSD, Timothy Leary, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr.; there are Liz Taylor,
Muhammad Ali and Simon and Garfunkel.

Yet, despite its reality check, the concept is phony. JFK was assassinated five months
before the Beatles' historic first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. If we're meant to
understand what was happening while the Beatles were in their ascendancy, the picture
is distorted. Further, a number of images are repeated, debunking intimations of
historical chronology.

The images eventually become distracting, although some are amusing, such as
commercials for Anacin and Pillsbury. And seeing the live performers go through various
dress and hair styles that characterized the Beatles' appearances from black-suited
Liverpudlians to multi-colored guru-seekers is to encapsulate the evolutionary nature of
the 60s. But the enterprise is illustrative, not enlightening.

It's a fair bet that audiences let the images play across their minds without absorbing
them. Rather than attempting to evoke an intellectual as well as an emotional reaction by
showing parallels between that era and ours (Vietnam and Iraq, anyone?), the show
contents itself with an exercise in nostalgia.

Baring some physical resemblance to the originals are Alan LeBoeuf (McCartney), David
Leon (Lennon), John Brosnan (Harrison) and Carmine Grippo (Ringo). They play
instruments, they sing, they bounce - all with élan. Although they're more vigorous than
animated, they spark excitement - or, rather, the Beatles catalogue does.

The audience at the show caught was ecstatic, energized to the point where some may
have believed they were actually seeing the Beatles themselves. For that, you'd do better
renting the wonderful Richard Lester film, "A Hard Day's Night."

Published in The Hour, March 27. 2008

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