“Let It Be”

 

            This is a spectacular presentation from the Dallas Summer Musicals.  The Music Hall at Fair Park was rockin' with Baby Boomers channeling their youth through the music of the Beatles.

            The musicians were simply fabulous.  Neil Candelora impersonates Paul McCartney right down to playing left-handed bass.  Sings a great tenor, as well.  JT Curtis doesn't look much like George Harrison, but he can sure play the guitar like him, both rhythm and lead.  And Michael Gagliano imitates John Lennon uncannily, down to the mop top and the rimless glasses.  Chris McBurney as Ringo Starr rounds out the Fab Four, but then there's always the “Fifth Beatle,” the George Martin at the keyboard and mixing in the studio, and filling in ably we have the talented Daniel Weiss. 

            What's really impressive about the musicality of these guys is how well they play all the phases of Beatle music, from the sweet, simple beginning like “I Saw Her Standing There” to the iconic “Hey Jude,” through the Sergeant Pepper phase and into the “Revolution” and all the way “Back To the U.S.S.R.”  They do them all, and do them well.  They even duplicate the switching of which one was singing lead vocals and which were doing the harmonies on each song, and yes, “Paul” and “John” take their turns at the piano, as well---and sometimes John plays a little lead guitar, and occasionally Paul plays rhythm guitar instead of bass.  They even mimic what the guys said at the microphone during live concerts, which is almost disconcertingly authentic.

            The second act envisions a reunion tour, circa 1980, which of course never happened, but gives our talented guys a chance to play some of the solo work after the group's 1970 breakup, like McCartney's “Live and Let Die,” and Lennon's “Watchin' the Wheels Go Round” and Harrison's “My Sweet Lord.”  And what we Beatles fan realize all over again is that whole was always greater than the sum of the parts.  Yes, they were all extraordinary musicians in their own right, but something magical (even mystical) happened when they were together, that just could never quite be duplicated after they broke up.  Thus, the second act of the show sags a bit in comparison to the first, but that's not these stage musicians' fault, it's just that the material they had to work with was less, well, transcendent. 

            As for the way the show was conducted, I have only one minor criticism:  they were constantly trying to get the audience to clap, wave, or turn on their cell phone flashlights.  Maybe we do that once or twice (standing up for “Twist and Shout,” lights on for “Imagine”), but they must have asked us twenty times, and it left us little opportunity to just sit back and let the music, and the nostalgia, wash over us.  And you don't need an entire audience clapping during “Blackbird,” because you miss hearing some of the intricate guitar work.

            OK, that quibble aside, the show was immensely enjoyable, especially for an old Beatles fan.  It's like an evening of binging on the primal music of our era.  If you love the Beatles, you need to go see this.  Even if your taste is more earthy, like The Rolling Stones, or pop, or Motown, or even country, you'll just appreciate the remarkable musicality in evidence here.  This was a great night at the theater.

            “Let It Be” runs March 7-19 at The Music Hall in Fair Park, and March 21-26 at Bass Performance Hall in Ft. Worth.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association