There are tribute bands and there are tribute bands, but this Beatles Orchestra nostalgia act shoots for the full-on ’60s immersion experience.
V Theater Group, LLC
If you missed Beatlemania … well, no one can turn back time. They can, however, put mop-top wigs on actor/musicians, give them period-correct costumes and historically accurate guitars, and invite us on a stroll down amnesia lane to sing along to songs you know by heart. Why not throw in an Ed Sullivan lookalike, too, for good measure?
More specifically, they can invite us to see the Beatles Orchestra at the Luxe Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, an intimate theater with pitched seating. There is not a bad view in the house, unless the guy in front of you jumps up and starts singing and dancing as the actors launch into a workmanlike rendition of “Hard Day’s Night” or “Strawberry Fields.” You might just have to jump up and sing yourself.
There are tribute bands and there are tribute bands, but this nostalgia act shoots for the full-on ’60s immersion experience. Sometimes they even hit the mark. Through three costume changes – prep-school suits for the Ed Sullivan era, shiny band uniforms for the “Sgt. Pepper” era, and borderline disco fever for the late period – the actors take you on a whirlwind tour of the career highs of the Fab Four. They may not always transport you. The wigs don’t always fit right, the Sgt. Pepper outfits are a little too goofy, and reports of technical difficulties and wardrobe malfunctions abound. Covers of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” or “Imagine” by seasoned pros aim for consistency rather than transcendence.
But this is the Beatles we’re talking about, so why be a poop? They wanna hold your hand! Warts and all, the 90-minute show is a rollicking good time from start to finish. There is no lip-syncing – the actors actually play and sing the hits. Go-go dancers add sex appeal and ’60s flair. Austin Powers makes a nonsensical appearance. It bears repeating – the introduction of the band by a poor man’s Ed Sullivan is a nice touch. The actors playing George, John, Paul, and Ringo banter wittily in almost-convincing Liverpool accents. They really make the most of their iconic roles.
The show is family-friendly, so bring the kids. Have fun trying to explain to them why the aging Baby Boomers two rows ahead of you are screaming like teenagers and pulling their blue hair like they just can’t cope. Better yet, be those Boomers. You’ll be having the most fun in the room, which, for an AARP member in Las Vegas, is saying something. Did we mention the curtain time is 5:30pm? The kids can have their godawful EDM migraine music – you’ll be kicking it to some of the best pop music ever written, period.
Truth be told, a good tribute band is often a better value than seeing the source band past its prime, charging $300 a ticket for nosebleed stadium seats to phone in standards that they are sick of playing. Tribute band performers bust their humps to faithfully reproduce the magic. There is energy in the homage. Can you even see the aging Beatles anymore? Does a Ringo/Paul reunion count? Of course not. At $60 a ticket, this exuberant show is the Beatles you are looking for.
Verdict: Rough around the edges but exploding with heart, Beatles Orchestra at Planet Hollywood takes the Beatles – the real ones, four goofy lads frozen in a time called the ’60s – and gives them a new lease on life. Your inner Beatlemaniac will be tickled right down to the rubber soul.