Forecast calls for Rain at Stranahan Theater Jan. 18-19Written by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
With The Beatles Rock Band game and the Fab Four’s music recently released on iTunes, some say the super group is bigger than ever.
“I think it is because there’s more generations that love The Beatles,” said Mark Lewis. “Kids that grew up with The Beatles that loved The Beatles and maybe even their parents that are elderly now that came to love The Beatles, too, because their kids played it. And then you’ve got the baby boomers’ kids and sometimes their grandkids, so you could have up to four generations of Beatles fans, which explains why they’re more popular now.”
Lewis is one of those baby boomers. He loved the lads from Liverpool so much he started to play their music in his band, Reign, in the 1970s in California. A few songs turned into a set and eventually a Beatles night.
“We would work for the door, basically, for whoever came in and paid the cover charge,” the keyboardist recalled. “We wound up doing better on a Beatles night than we had done sometimes working as a Top 40 band.”
It didn’t take long for Lewis to change the name of the band to Rain — A Tribute to The Beatles. Some lineup changes followed.
“I brought in guys that had been in the show ‘Beatlemania,’ which played on Broadway and toured all over the U.S.,” Lewis said during a call from New York City. “We became more of a real production show, and we started to spend more time not just getting the music a lot better, but also making the visuals a lot better and the adaptation a lot better, and we started to get more popular.”
The popularity is pouring; Rain opened on Broadway in October for a 12-week run. The cast of the theatrical production will switch theaters this month and continue to play eight shows a week for four months. All they’ve got to do is act, naturally. And play and sound just like The Beatles.
Lewis and the rotating cast members are obsessed with that challenge.
“You listen to a song like ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ or ‘I Saw Her Standing There,’ there are hand claps on the record. So the keyboard player would be in the back with samples of hand claps. And we don’t just use one hand clap because the hand claps don’t sound the same each time you do it, so we hit a different note and have a slightly different hand clap,” Lewis said.
He said the samples are recorded sounds — hand claps, violins, cellos, etc. — that are played by keyboard.
While Lewis sometimes plays keyboards for Rain, he also is the manager, coordinating the Broadway show and the touring cast, which will play 8 p.m. shows at Stranahan Theater Jan. 18 and 19. Tickets range from $20 to $44.
Appearing in Toledo will be Jim Irizarry as John Lennon, Robert Ruffing as Paul McCartney, Jimmy Pou as George Harrison and Doug Cox as Ringo Starr; Chris Smallwood will be on keyboards and percussion.
“We treat [The Beatles’ music] the same as a classical musician treats music of the masters like Mozart or Beethoven … there’s no room for improvisation,” Lewis said. “There’s tens of thousands of arrangements of Beatles songs that don’t sound anything like The Beatles; we try to sound like The Beatles.”