|Index||3 reviews in total|
At a then phenomenal 1,000+ performances (mostly at the Winter Garden
Theatre with five final months at the Lunt-Fontanne and another two at
the Palace - it moved to make way for the also filmed ZOOT SUIT and
successful revivals of PETER PAN with Sandy Duncan and OKLAHOMA!
respectively) from May 26, 1977 to October 17, 1979, BEATLEMANIA was
the fore-runner of a number of so-called "jukebox musicals" and
remains, to date, the most successful of the stage shows seeking to
translate the Beatles' musical canon to the stage.
Conceived and co-produced by famed Broadway lighting designer Jules Fisher (who got another Tony nomination for lighting the show), BEATLEMANIA (some felt cynically, but undeniably successfully) offered four Beatles look-alikes doing a multi-media concert that covered each of the periods of the Beatles careers with artful projections putting the music in the context of the time the music was introduced.
For the film (recorded during the post-Broadway tour in slightly reduced form - the two hour show was cut down, according to the 1981 U.S.A. Home Video VHS and Beta video release, to a mere 95 minutes - though that may have included the previews of something called "DAZZLE DANCING", BUDDY HACKETT LIVE AND UNCENSORED and THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES which were also on the tape), Fisher's atmospheric stage projections took center stage (moved from the areas around the band and on a sheer screen in front of it during scene and costume changes to fill the movie screen - too often for maximum effect) and almost threaten to overwhelm the generally effective concert.
One of the genius things about the show as produced was that it acknowledged that the stars performing were merely Beatles imitators, so while undeniably talented, they were basically replaceable and the cast filmed (Mitch Weissman, Ralph Castelli, David Leon and Tom Teeley) was not the cast which opened the show at the Winter Garden (Randy Clark, P.M. Howard, Reed Kailing and Bobby Taylor). Few noticed. The Internet Broadway Database, ibdb, which usually tracks cast replacements carefully, did not track the shifting musicians on this effort, so it's hard to tell if any of the film cast actually played in BEATLEMANIA during the Broadway run.
At least the basic physical production, costumes and staging remained the same and the film - even in its abbreviated form - gives us an excellent document of what a supremely successful (if hybrid) Broadway revue looked and sounded like in the late 1970's.
The film was not (and is not) as successful on screen as it was in the theatre - neither, truth be told, was the Woodstock experience in its very successful film - but it remains very enjoyable for what it is. Movie-movie fans may not find much to attract them here, but Beatles fans and even those who merely want a piece of nostalgia for the music of their youth (if that youth was in the 1960's) will find much to enjoy in this concert film.
It's a long way from BEATLEMANIA to a multi-band documentary like WOODSTOCK or the current Tony winning Broadway smash JERSEY BOYS (based on the careers of Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons), but all three trade on the same desire to relive a popular live band experience - with bands that made their mark and left. We should be very glad that at least BEATLEMANIA and WOODSTOCK were preserved for posterity to enjoy for what they are.
Four lookalikes perform the songs of the Beatles. And here are the 30
songs they perform, in order:
I want to hold your hand, She loves you, Please please me, Help!, Day tripper, If I fell, Can't buy me love, Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, We can work it out, Nowhere Man, A day in the life, Strawberry Fields forever, Penny Lane, Magical mystery tour, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Michelle, Get back, The fool on the hill, Lady Madonna, Got to get you into my life, Come together, With a little help from my friends, All you need is love, Revolution, Helter skelter, Hey Jude, The long and winding road, Let it be, The End.
A good selection then, although I would have preferred a few more lesser well known ones. I understand the film was a cut down version of the play so maybe some got left on the cutting room floor. I guess it's a reasonable split between John and Paul songs. Sadly there are no George ones.
As a nitpicking Beatlemaniac I found it slightly annoying not so much that the songs are performed in the 'wrong' order but that many of them are performed in clearly the wrong 'look' for the time. A bit of crossover is acceptable, but having the guys sing If I Fell in their Magical Mystery Tour outfits feels a bit weird.
This isn't a great movie, in fact it's barely a movie at all, but it's nice to hear these songs again. It always is. But as always the ear wants it to be the originals. Oh well, I guess there are other films for that.
I was actually in this movie! Yay! My ONLY appearance in a movie was unfortunately in this turkey. And yes Christina Applegate was sitting two rows down from me...although no one had any idea who she was at that time, other than a cute little kid. My wife and I had seen Beatlemainia, the stage show, several times and went to the DC pavilion that night to see it again...AND be in the movie. It cost $6 for admission and everyone was sorted to different parts of the theater as they came in. It seemed to be an effort to get the more attractive of the those wanting to be in the movie in the front seats. We got picked to sit only 3 rows from the front, so you can see us several times throughout the film. The rest was essentially boring crap. "Everybody laugh"..."everybody scream and cheer"..."OK, be quiet for a while"... Kinda neat to see how they make a movie and actually be "directed". But other than that, anyone could tell this was NOT going to be a classic. It seemed VERY silly then and it still does. I mean why put something like an impersonation up on the screen when the camera will tell you instantly that it isn't the original? Anyway the music was good and for a treat the director let the group do part of their real show after the filming. Fun night...silly film. See it! See ME!...hahahaha
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