The forecast predicts that you can Experience The Beatles with Rain on April 1, at Spectra Place, and it may be the last opportunity for many to see the Beatles live in concert. The Broadway production explores the Beatles’ catalogue, looking at the history of the 1960s as the band moves through the Beatles’ life from album to album.
Mac Ruffing, who will appear in the Energy City as Paul McCartney, spoke with the Mercury last week, pointing out the Beatles really only toured for a few of years from 1963 to 1966. There was really limited opportunity to see the Beatles perform in their day, but Rain brings the spirit of the Fab Four and the 60s back to life.
“The Beatles themselves, once they were famous, they toured for four years, from 1963, in Europe, and then came over here in 1964 and toured for two more years,” he said. “They stopped in ’66, because they were prisoners of their own success. They couldn’t go out in public without getting mobbed. They became a studio band with Sgt. Pepper and everything after that.”
The first part of the show is the Beatles’ early music, done in the iconic black suits, capturing the excitement around that early era.
Ruffing will appear as part of the rotating lineup with members of the troupe representing the personalities and styling of John Lennon, George Harrison and the oft-maligned, ultimately forgotten Ringo Starr.
Ruffing grew up playing the bass, and although he is a natural righty, has learned to play left-handed like his alter ego McCartney.
“It’s great,” Ruffing said about being a Beatle. “We’re honoured to do the music. It’s the best music ever written and recorded, in my opinion. The audience’s reaction is just amazing. They’re singing along, dancing in the aisles. We encourage that, too, so you’re not just sitting there watching a concert.”
All the music is played live, with no recordings. There is a fifth Beatle on stage as well, who performs horns, additional percussion and any other sounds the four primary members can’t.
“We never get tired of playing the songs. We’re all Beatles nuts,” Ruffing said, adding that many times someone who wasn’t an avid fan will come up to them after the show and say they’re going to go buy an album.
It’s a great to discover the Beatles’ music, and for those who grew up as the Beatles were recording, Rain allows them to go back in time and see the band live once again.
“My favourite (songs to play) are from the early era. Songs like I Want to Hold Your Hand, Who Loves Your, Yesterday. Hey Jude gets everyone going, singing along. Even though it’s not our music, we’re not the original artists, but still, the people’s smiles on their faces are great.”
Ruffing has been touring with Rain since 2010. At that time, there was one band, but the tour was performing too much for just one group to handle. There are multiple groups now so they can handle the number of shows, and the players are rotating so Ruffing will regularly play with a different cast mix, as they do week on, week off shifts.
The show has toured all over the world, in Europe, Asia and South Africa as well as across North America.
“It is universal. Even if you don’t speak English, you love it,” Ruffing said of the Beatles’ tunes.
“(The show) is kind of a time capsule of the 1960s through the music of the Beatles,” said Ruffing.
As the show begins, some of the major events from the decade are retold to set the mood for the evening. The show is largely a chronological one, with Ed Sullivan introducing the Beatles in the beginning and moving the band’s work.
The show is a big production, noted Ruffing, who said there is more to it than the four band members playing Beatles’ songs.
“There are videos going, and there are also cameras going around shooting live images of us on the screens as if we were on television like the Ed Sullivan Show. They also shoot people in the audience in old style, black-and-white footage, intermixed with old footage of the fans going crazy.”
It is a Broadway production, so the sets are expansive and detailed, and the instruments are all pieces the band members played in their careers. Ruffing added that the show is for all audiences and great for families, as well as both die hard and passive Beatles fans.