On Saturday, Oct. 9, The Cast of Beatlemania performed to a large crowd at the Recreation Center as a finale to the Alumni Association’s Homecoming weekend.
Alumni, current students, family and guests gathered to hear these performers in a remarkably convincing concert of hits from The Beatles. Each performer brought a different level of experience and authenticity to the overall performance.
Carlo Cantamessa (John Lennon) has been a member of the touring company of Beatlemania for over 25 years, traveling all around the world and serving as the leader of the group.
Complementing Cantamessa flawlessly is Lenie Colacino (Paul McCartney). Colacino was a member of the original Broadway production of Beatlemania and was also the first left-handed Paul in the show.
George Harrison is portrayed by Jim Filgate, a recent addition to the international touring show with a lifetime of musical experience. Also relatively new to the show is John Delgado (Ringo Starr), who has toured nationally and has a background in theater and music.
The four performers showed their versatility and humor during a sound check earlier in the evening, playing Beach Boys songs and practicing their kazoos for use late in the evening in “Lady Madonna.”
The cast performed for two and a half hours, with two acts that divided the eras of The Beatles creative entity. Their stage was set in front of a projection screen that displayed images of historical significance from the sixties, including everything from James Brown to JFK, space travel to birth control.
In the first act, songs included “Roll Over Beethoven,” “You Can’t Do That,” “Help!,” “Yesterday” and “Daytripper.” Dressed in wigs and the dark grey suits that became the symbol for early Beatle performances, the cast could pass for the original members.
The faux Fab Four also included the song “In My Life” during the first half of the show in remembrance of John and George’s passing and to honor John’s birthday. The day of the show would have been Lennon’s 64 birthday.
Act two began with the outfits featured on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and they sang the title song to lead off after the intermission. Delgado sang “With a Little Help From My Friends,” one of his few songs during the show. Other songs included “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “I Am the Walrus,” “Something” and “Hey Jude.” Midway through this selection, the cast members had a final costume change after which they appeared similar to the images on the Abbey Road album.
For their final song, The Cast of Beatlemania sang “Revolution,” a song which they said summed up the entire show as well as the history of some of the greatest musicians in music history.
The performances of the four cast members were strikingly similar to the originals. Most notably was Cantamessa’s portrayal of John Lennon, from his playful nature with the crowd to his unique singing talent and appearance.
In an interview before the show, Cantamessa spoke about how he became involved with the production. “My senior year in high school, I saw an ad in The Hartford Courant that said, ‘Can you look, act and sound like a Beatle?’,” he said. After a series of auditions, he was invited to join the touring company and has since spread the joy of Beatlemania around the world, traveling to Japan, Micronesia, Canada and Mexico.
Cantamessa spoke about the audiences that he has seen in his travels, saying, “It seems like over the last 20 years the excitement, notoriety and popularity of The Beatles has grown and waned, and we are at the point right now where it’s actually grown again. Of late, I’ve seen, I’d say, at least 3 to 4 generations of people come in and see the show.” He feels that this “shows the longevity of the music.”
The Cast of Beatlemania sees their shows as tributes to both the music of The Beatles and the members who have died. He said that it is an honor to play Lennon, and added, “When John died, while they took him away in body, they never took his spirit and his soul away.”
After raising his five children on sixties music, Cantamessa is glad to see that people are still enjoying the music that he grew up with. “It’s the greatest music ever written,” he said, “and we get to share this experience every night with different people… We are the luckiest guys in rock and roll.”
For more information on The Cast of Beatlemania, visit their website at moptops.com.