The audience inside Lakewood, NJ’s historic Strand Theater this January 27, 2018 evening is excitedly awaiting a live performance by The Beatles tribute band, The Cast of Beatlemania.
The Cast is comprised of former members who starred in the Broadway production of Beatlemania. The group has performed in all fifty states and over twenty foreign countries including Canada, England, Mexico, Brazil, and Japan. Formed in 1980, it is one of the longest-running Beatles’ tribute shows in the world.
The Cast of Beatlemania stars Carlo Cantamessa as John Lennon. He plays rhythm guitar, bass guitar, piano, and vocals.
Lenie Colacino as Paul McCartney plays bass guitar, piano, and lead vocals.
Colacino — a McCartney soundalike if you’ve ever heard one — was the first left-handed bass playing member of the original Broadway production of Beatlemania.
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Jim Filgate as George Harrison plays lead guitar and vocals.
Lastly, John Delgado as Ringo Starr plays drums and percussion along with singing lead vocals.
At 8pm, concert presenter James D’Amico takes the stage to welcome the audience to The Strand. He introduces radio DJ Alan David Stein from WJRZ and WMTR radio who tells the group that, on his shows, he likes to play “a lot of Beatles!”
Stein encourages this audience of music lovers of all ages to recreate the excitement that was the real Beatlemania back in the ’60s by making plenty of noise as soon as he introduces the band. The crowd screams as he announces the arrival of the mop-topped musicians!
The Cast opens their show with a rousing rendition of “I Saw Her Standing There.” Then, inviting the crowd to clap along, “George” is featured on a rockin’ “Roll Over Beethoven.”
The audience obliges — rhythmically clapping to the beat — as the musicians have fun recreating this classic tune.
In his Liverpudlian accent, “Paul” chats it up with the crowd and explains to them that the next number is a cover song from the Broadway musical, The Music Man, entitled “’Til There Was You.” The group follows this up with a swinging rendition of “All My Loving,” featuring “Paul.”
“John” handles the lead vocals and plays guitar on a number which he announces “is a 1964 song from a black and white movie.”
Here, the audience members tap their toes and nod along to a dynamic rendition of “A Hard Day’s Night.”
The merriment continues with “George” who takes the lead on a joyous version of “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You.”
Announcing, “I’d like to play one of these acoustic guitars we brought along,” “John” is featured on a tune from the classic Beatles’ album, Rubber Soul — “I Call Your Name” — as “Paul” and “George” share a mic to sing backup.
Then “John,” “George,” and “Paul,” all play acoustic instruments on “I’ve Just Seen a Face” to audience whistles and cheers.
After a captivating presentation of “I’ll Follow the Sun,” John exclaims, “Put your hands together for Ringo!” who is featured on “Act Naturally.” The Cast follows that tune up with a poignant rendition of “In My Life.”
Lights rain down on the stage as the group sings “Help.” Telling the audience, “If you’re so inclined, dance in the aisles!” next, they perform “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby.”
Audience applause continues for “John” whose considerable talents are featured on “Norwegian Wood.”
The audience hoots as the band follows up with “Nowhere Man,” featuring a tight a cappella vocal introduction. In the audience, members of the crowd happily clap and sing along.
As lights dance and heads continue to bop in the audience, The Cast performs an energetic rendition of “Drive My Car.” As “Paul” handles the lead, “George” and “John” harmonize together.
After seeing some members of the audience stand to applaud, “John” asks, “How are you feeling?,” after which the group plays a sparkling rendition of “I Feel Fine.”
The audience stamps their feet and continues to make even more noise as the group launches into the rockin’ “Day Tripper.” At the end, they cheer and whistle before The Cast takes a short intermission.
Returning to the stage wearing their colorful Sgt. Pepper’s uniforms, the group begins Act II with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” before seguing into “A Little Help from My Friends” featuring “Ringo.”
An ethereal rendition of “Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds” gets the crowd’s attention, and The Cast follows that up with the optimistic “It’s Getting Better All the Time.”
The crowd shows how much they love it, and also how much they love a song which many of the older audience members can easily relate to — “When I’m 64” — “Paul” joking, “I wish I were 64 again!” At this point in the show, “Paul” explains to the younger members of the audience what a “record” is, describing how one would have to get up and turn the record over to hear the the second side following the first.
Next up is a highlight of the evening’s concert — The Cast’s live rendition of “Strawberry Fields Forever” — a performance which sounds remarkably like the original studio recording, despite the fact that it’s being played live on stage. Following huge applause, the group performs another difficult live number — “Penny Lane” — on which “John” plays piano and “George” adds a third set of hands on the keyboard!
Before their next song, “John” takes a moment to talk about the “fifth Beatle” on the stage with them tonight.
Introducing him as Larry Hochman, “John” tells the crowd that Hochman — playing keyboards and auxiliary percussion tonight — was the orchestrator of several shows on Broadway including The Book of Mormon and Hello Dollystarring Bette Midler.
Moving on to another audience favorite — “I Am the Walrus” — the crowd sings along, fists raised on the famous “whoo!” “George” is featured next on a dynamic rendition of “Tax Man.”
Then, “John” performs a solo version of “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” as his bandmates leave the stage. The audience happily sings along with him.
“John” talks about performing here in Lakewood at The Strand calling it a “good place.” He then introduces “Paul” who returns in a black suit to perform a country-music rendition of “Rocky Racoon.”
When “John” returns — clearly chewing gum — he announces, “The real John Lennon chewed gum when he played, so for all you people who say “stop chewing gum — NO!”
At this point, The Cast lights up the stage with a tune from The Beatles’ classic Abbey Road — “Come Together.”
Other tunes from the ubiquitous album include “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and “Octopus’s Garden,” which features a lead vocal from “Ringo.” Following “Ringo’s” turn in the spotlight, the audience cheers to see him flash double peace signs with his fingers.
“George” is featured on another classic from Abbey Road, “Something,” a performance which elicits more cheers and applause.
Dedicating the next song “to all you hardworking women out there,” The Cast performs a jazzy rendition of “Lady Madonna.” They follow that up with yet another highlight performance of the evening, “Hey Jude.”
As arms wave in the air, people sway to the music, and audience members sing along on the anthem-like “Na na-na na-na-na-na” coda.
Moving on to a luminous rendition of “Here Comes the Sun,” the group rocks it to the rafters with “Get Back,” and concludes tonight’s tribute to The Fab Four with an electrifying version of “Revolution.”
As the musicians leave the stage, the crowd stands and applauds for The Cast. The band reciprocates by returning for an encore of “Let it Be,” as couples in the auditorium can be seen dancing in the aisles.
While audience members make their way out of the theater, we chat with several members of the crowd who share their thoughts about tonight’s performance with us.
First, we chat with Carla from Lakewood who says, “I loved The Cast of Beatlemania. They do a wonderful job of recreating the feel of a live Beatles’ concert,” adding, “and I especially like how they made the show chronological — starting with the early Beatles and ending up with ‘Let it Be.’”
Revealing, “I grew up listening to The Beatles, so I feel like a little kid when I hear songs like ‘All My Loving’ and I feel like a teenager when they play songs from Sgt. Pepper,” Carla adds, “When I hear those songs, I can picture my friends singing along with the radio on the bus ride home from school.”
Next, we chat with Craig from Robbinsville who brought his son, Ryan, to see tonight’s concert. States Ryan, age 12, “I’m a huge Beatles fan — I’ve been a Beatles fan since I was 6. This is my birthday present — I turned 12 yesterday. I like everything about The Beatles — the costumes, the music, everything. I have all their albums, but my favorite song is ‘Helter Skelter.’”
Says his dad, Craig, “My mother’s cousin is broadcast journalist Larry Kane.” Revealing, “When Dick Clark declared The Beatles a one hit wonder, their manager, Brian Epstein, asked my mom’s cousin, Larry, to get them on the Ed Sullivan Show, and the rest is history!”
Adding, “I have another connection to The Beatles,” Craig goes on to disclose, “My uncle, Phil Stanton, was one of the private police escorts for John Lennon when he and Yoko lived in New York City. Phil was off the day John Lennon was shot and he said he always regretted that.”
We also chat with a family of three from Freehold.
Says son Ryan, 11, “I got tickets for tonight’s show as a present. I’ve been a Beatles fan ever since I was born because my parents are fans. Every night since I was a baby, I’ve listened to The Beatles’ Lullabies CD, which is an instrumental version of many of their songs — I can’t go to sleep to any other music. I sometimes make up my own words to the tunes — like I’ll sing “Cantaloupe Fields” because I don’t like strawberries.”
Adding, “I like The Beatles because they’re so creative,” Ryan tells us, “I even sang ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ at my school along with other Beatles’ songs in a show,” but my favorite Beatles’ song is “Hey Jude” because my mom’s name is Judi.”
Mom Judi smiles and adds, “I saw the Broadway show, Beatlemania, at the State Theater in New Brunswick just after John Lennon died. People from the audience were yelling out John’s name during the performance — a situation which, for me, was both eerie and touching at the same time.”
Dad Andy comments, “I’m a long time Beatles fan — I grew up on this music. My parents graduated from high school around 1960 or ’61 and listened to their music, and I was born in 1964 — just when the Beatles came to America — so I grew up listening to it, too.”
Adding, “I danced with my mom at my wedding to ‘In My Life,’” Andy further recalls, “The first concert I ever saw was the No Nukes concert with George Harrison,” adding, “I’ve seen John Lennon in concert and Ringo Starr, too — the only Beatle I haven’t seen yet is Paul McCartney.”
Lastly, we chat with a long-time Beatles fan, John from Jackson. Reveals John, “It’s amazing — I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, but I can remember every word to every Beatles’ song the Cast of Beatlemania played tonight.”
Adding, “They did a great job of accurately reproducing the music of The Beatles in this concert,” John insists, “that’s no small feat as — for me and the rest of my generation — this music is just part of our DNA.”
For more information about The Cast of Beatlemania, please go to moptops.com. To learn more about other great concerts at The Strand — including Pop, Rock and Doo Wop LIVE starring The Duprees, The Del-Satins, The Mello-Kings, The Mystics and more on Mar. 1; The Lettermen on Mar. 10; Tavaris with Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes on Apr. 13; and The Grass Roots, Paul Revere’s Raiders, and The 1910 Fruitgum Co. on Apr. 28 — please go to strand.org.Photos by Love Imagery
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