There are times when I’m convinced that Los Angeles is to the Beatles what Sin City is to Elvis. Times like these, in fact, when one Beatles-themed show follows on the heels of another and another seemingly ad infinitum.
Granted, three shows does not a cascade make, especially when one is a one-off. Still, by the time the tour of “Rain” rolls back into the Pantages in May, there may just be enough Lads from Liverpudlian saturation for audiences to say “Enough already. Let’s have some Stones!”
You’ve got to figure the makers of “Backbeat” are delighted to be first in the wave and to have the product nobody in the SoCal has ever seen…at least not in the SoCal or anywhere else in America. “Backbeat,” opening Wednesday at the Ahmanson, is also a bit different in that it is purporting to tell the story of the Beatles before they became the fully formed Beatles. Meaning Ringo makes barely a cameo. Meaning original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe is the main character a major role and, other than Lennon, the rest of the Fab Five are in the “Backbeat” background Meaning that a significant part of the action takes place in Hamburg and the play charting the Birth of the Beatles spends a lot of time on the love affair of Sutcliffe and German photographer Astrid Kirchherr.
Meaning don’t expect any of the Beatles’ big hits. You get largely covers of vintage tunes like “Money,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Twist and Shout,” “Good Golly Miss Molly” and “Please Mr. Postman.” “Backbeat” played successful runs in Glasgow, Toronto and London. And most of the original cast is here. Read my review in “Backstage.”
You’ll get a saturation of hits in “Rain” which returns to the Pantages (it last came in 2010) in May. “Rain” is a recreated Beatles concert, featuring many of the band’s signature numbers as well as a few that the Beatles wrote but never performed. Formed as a tribute band in the mid 1970s, “Rain” has played around Los Angeles and Orange County as well as an eight-month stint on Broadway in 2010-11. It was originally scheduled to be at the Pantages at the end of January (Perhaps it rescheduled to give people time to forget “Backbeat,”) but will arrive instead May 7-12.
For those who can’t wait that long for a “Hey Jude” fix, look no further than the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro for, uh huh, one night only Feb. 23 when “In My Life” with tribute band Abbey Road takes the stage. It looks like this one, while two and a half hours long, isn’t a fully staged concert, but key moments in the band’s history with manager Brian Epstein serving as narrator.
“Backbeat” continues through March 1 at the Ahmanson Theatre. 215 N. Grand Ave., L.A. (213) 628-2772, www.centertheatregrooup.org.
“Rain” plays May 7-12 at the Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (800) 982- 2787, www.broadwayla.org.