On Feb. 14, “The Cast of Beatlemania” rocked the Strand Theater in Lakewood with its “All You Need Is Love” Valentine’s Day Beatles tribute. The Cast — Carlo Cantamessa as John, Lenie Colacino as Paul, James Filgate as George and John Delgado as Ringo, along with musical director Mark Templeton and producer James D’Amico – transported the audience back to the 1960s to recreate the frenzy that was Beatlemania.
As the first chords of “I Saw Her Standing There” filled the theater, one could only imagine the journey we would take together — a journey many of us could remember from our own personal vantage point, now watching from seats we wish we could have filled 50 years ago when this magical journey was a reality.
Although all of the actors in The Cast don’t necessarily look or sound precisely like John, Paul, George and Ringo, their music is infectious. Their clothes, accents, voices, instruments, mannerisms and details — from the vintage Rickenbacker guitars to the left-handed Hofner bass playing of Paul — all work to create the illusion of the 1960s and the Beatles.
As this incarnation of the Fab Four plays hit after hit — “All My Loving,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help!,” “I Feel Fine,” “Drive My Car,” “Day Tripper” and many more — we forget these are actors engaging the audience, encouraging us to sing even if it is, as “Paul” in his Liverpudlian accent explains, “to the dismay of our neighbor.”
Heads bopping in moptop wigs and black and white suits, they recreate our first memories of the Beatles … with only the color of the instruments and lights transporting the music and images back into the 21st century. Moreover, as the music changes, so do the costumes and hairdos of the group.
Through the kaleidoscopic sounds of “Penny Lane,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and “I Am the Walrus” — where the audience “whoooos” and “goo-goo-g’joob”s perfectly on cue — The Cast of Beatlemania reminds us that “nothing is real” and “nothing lasts forever.”
But the music is so ingrained in the audience members’ collective psyche that the crowd sings along on every song in communal celebration while the cast members trade quips as well as vocal harmonies, switch instruments, and play and sing their convincing renditions of timeless Beatle songs.
Jovial banter about the frigid Valentine’s Day temperatures outside makes the illusion of seeing the Beatles right here in Lakewood even more of a reality to the audience. “John,” “Paul,” “George” and “Ringo” seem like old friends to us because we know them and their music so well, bringing the graying members of the audience back to the days of their youth with such classics as “In My Life,” “With a Little Help From My Friends,” “Come Together,” “Something,” “Hey Jude” and “Here Comes the Sun,” where the strumming of the last chord lifts the audience to its feet, demanding an encore with whistles and cheers.
For more information on The Cast of Beatlemania, go to moptops.com. For info on future events at The Strand Theater — including The Artimus Pyle Band’s Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd on March 5 and The Glimmer Twins’ Rolling Stones Tribute on April 2 — go to strand.org.