Jeff Parry did not let a disagreement with some former business partners Rain on his Beatles parade.
The Canadian producer and concert promoter was for a time part of the team behind the Beatles show Rain: A Tribute tot he Beatles and helped build the brand into one of the top tribute acts on the road. The two went their own ways in 2012 (a subsequent lawsuit was dropped ), and the following year Parry's Annerin Productions delivered Let It Be: A Celebration of the Music of The Beatles," which plays Sunday, Feb. 22, at SoundBoard in Detroit's Motor City Casino. The show has been seen by more than a million people worldwide -- including dates on Broadway and in London's West End -- and won rave reviews, including a U.K. Telegraph declaration that "For those who love the Beatles, this show is about as good as it gets."
"I guess the defining moment to me was on the U.K. tour, when we took it to Liverpool," the Beatles home town," says Parry, who's also been involved with ABBA, Pink Floyd and Bee Gees tribute shows. "I felt like, 'Man, this is like booking a one-way ticket on the Titanic,' but it didn't go that way at all. It was great. We had the Empire Theater for an eight-show week and it sold really well. People like John Lennon's sister showed up. The person who used to do Ringo's hair came and raved about the show, and they all said, 'Nobody's done a great Beatles show like this.'
"It's kind of ironic that here I am, this guy from Calgary, doing this English band right. It's almost surreal. It doesn't make any sense, but it's working."
Let It Be tells the Beatles' story in 40 songs, from early hits such as "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Please Please Me" to the "Hey Jude" finale. There are three Let It Be troupes touring with some 20 players between them, and Parry says the priority is more on how the show sounds than how much the cast members resemble their Beatle counterparts.
"The magic is really in the music of the Beatles," Parry explains. "People want to close their eyes and hear the Beatles. We don't test for that. We don't want to look exact; the persona's got to be there, but the actual, dead-on look doesn't. The music just makes you feel good.
"And y'know what? After a show people walk out going, 'That guy looked just like George,' even if he looked more like my mother than George Harrison. The personality takes over, and if they sound right the look really doesn't matter."
Let It Be: A Celebration of the Music of the Beatles
7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22.
SoundBoard in the Motor City Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Blvd., Detroit
Tickets are $27-$38.
Call 866-782-9622 or visit www.soundboarddetroit.com.
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