Thursday, August 9, 2012

Barn Players "Revolution" review by DeborahBuckner

The Barn Players' Revolution
Rating: 4

Revolution: A Tribute to the Beatles
The Barn Players, Inc.

The Barn Players' production of Revolution: A Tribute to the Beatles, left me asking questions. Would the Beatles have stayed together if it had not been for the untimely death of their manager, Brian Epstein? Did the early Beatles create the American "hippie" culture, and did the American "hippie" culture create the later Beatles? Should this production which is so fascinating in tracing the history of the Fab Four be called "Revolution" or "Evolution"?

Conceived and directed by Eric Van Horn, Revolution plays only August 10-12, to raise funds for The Barn Players. If you have other plans for this weekend, change them, because you won't want to miss this.

Over the years, groups like Liverpool and The Fab Four have honored The Beatles through imitation. Revolution doesn't try to do that. Instead, an ensemble cast presents 46 songs from The Beatles' vast catalog, but makes each song new. Isn't that the highest tribute, to make a song fresh for a new generation rather than freeze it in the past with only a pale imitation of what it once was?

The energetic ensemble keeps things moving while voice-overs help to place the songs in context, relating the early days of Brian Epstein's management of the group, the excitement of touring, the first Beatles record played in America, the historic appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show and the eventual discord and publicity blunders of the band in the days leading to its break-up.

There are so many standout performances there is a danger in trying to list them all. Jessica Hannebaum, pen in hand, projects touching emotion in "P.S. I Love You." Justin Dehmer brings a sweet sadness to "This Boy," while the story of lost love is projected through silhouettes on a screen. Kristen Altoro gives a new poignancy to "Yesterday." Adam McAdoo sings a rousing "Penny Lane" while ensemble members become the characters of the song. Erin Coleman, backed up by the full ensemble, makes "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da" high-spirited and fun.

"In My Life," sung by Coleman, Anne Haines, Prisca Kendagor and Trista Stone, is presented as a tribute to Epstein, while photographs are projected onscreen. The closing "Let It Be" with the full ensemble on risers, standing with lighted candles while images of the Beatles appear on-screen, creates a living memorial.

Music is provided by the "Revolution Band," with Bill Welch on lead guitar, Bill Wood on bass, Kari Rydalch on keyboards, and Randy George on percussion. Welch also sings "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and has a solo in "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

True Baby Boomers will enjoy this look back at one of the most powerful influences on their generation. Those of us at the tail end of the boom will find some context to the songs we grew up hearing. For the younger set, Revolution provides an evening of entertainment with songs that have become timeless and will, no doubt, inspire thought long after the performance.

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