BEATLES Fun Explodes on Crighton Stage

The show had not yet begun at the Conroe’s elegant Crighton Theatre and already the audience was in a really good mood. That was no accident but the result of a very talented young comedian who thoroughly warmed up the crowd, but sadly was not named in the printed program. His quick wit had the audience roaring with laughter as he described a previous gig at Nightcrawlers Bar in a town named Worms, Nebraska, where “no one had ever seen a black man before.” As for run-ins with the law, he was not worried: “I can’t go to jail. I’m too skinny and I don’t like family reunions.” There were more peals of laughter as he described his continued use of a large ancient cell phone that is “…so big that e-mail arrives in envelopes.” He mocked TV reality shows with his comical description of what he called, “The Last and Final Reality Show.” And perhaps his most hilarious bit was the impersonation of a radio broadcaster’s frantic attempt to describe the action in a basketball game.

Next it was on to the main event, The Montgomery County Performing Arts presentation of, “YESTERDAY & TODAY: The Interactive Beatles Experience.”

Courtesy Photo: (L-R) Ryan, Matthew & Billy McGuigan

The concert cast included the three amazingly talented McGuigan brothers, Billy (guitar, vocals and creator/emcee), Matthew (bass and vocals), and Ryan (lead vocalist). Darren Pettit (Musical Director on saxophone & percussion), Rich Miller (drums), Leon Adams (keyboard), and Jason Ferguson (lead guitar) supplied the top-notch accompaniment for an evening of Beatles music that would be difficult to top. The format was cleverly designed to keep the program fresh for both audience and performers. Before the show began audience members had the opportunity to fill our request forms for their favorite Beatles tunes. When the show got underway, those whose requests were selected were pointed out in the audience by fun-filled host for the evening, Billy. His charm and personality would thread its way through a night of wonderful music and memories for those who still love the music of the lads from Liverpool. More than that, Billy showed a knack for having spontaneous fun with audience members singled out in the process.

A lively and rhythmic, “Get Back” got the music off to a great start, and then a gay, Peter Max-style backdrop appeared as the guys delivered a terrific, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Countless Beatles delights would follow, though the early part of the program suffered a bit as instrument volumes overwhelmed the really fine voices of these talented gents. As the night went on, sound engineers fine-tuned that balance and got the problem under control. The “Long and Winding Road” that followed included such favorites as, “Penny Lane,” “Love Me Do,” a joyful “Eight Days a Week,” the less well known, “Devil in Her Heart,” and an audience sing-a-long of “Yellow Submarine.”

An instrumental break featured a dazzling acoustic guitar solo from Ferguson that had Spanish flair with its impressive virtuosity. Maintaining that high standard, Matthew followed with solid voice and guitar for, “Blackbird,” and Billy added a soaring “Yesterday” solo that was wonderful. There was a fine “Eleanor Rigby” with mellow harmonies, an energetic and bouncing, “Things We Said Today,” and a rip-roaring, “Rocky Raccoon,” with Leon tearing things up on the keyboard. But without a doubt the highlight of the night came just before the intermission when the lads performed a rich, poignant and lovely, “Because.” Accompanied by a sweet slide & video projection of the brothers growing up in Nebraska, this number was warmly dedicated to their late father, William McGuigan Sr., an Air Force officer who passed away in 1995 of Leukemia. He had raised his fine sons with his love of the Beatles songbook, and on this magical night that love was generously shared with the Crighton audience. It was a wonderful segment, and if I were advising the lads I would urge that sweetly sentimental tribute should really come at the end of the show as a memorable conclusion.

There were plenty of other favorites following intermission, including a sweet, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” “I Am the Walrus,” and “Paperback Writer” were both funky but largely inaudible amid the din. “Day Tripper” was a hand-clapping crowd pleaser, though I again found myself thinking that lyrics should be clearly heard. There was a powerful, “Revolution,” with more power from Leon on keyboard. Tunes like, “Twist and Shout,” “She Loves You,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” had audience members dancing in the aisles. Even “Please Please Me,” and “All My Loving,” did not conclude the musical feast until a finale of “Hey Jude” had the audience singing along as they did during a rousing encore of, “Come Together” that featured great instrumental solos from our cast. It was a great night and perhaps best summed up by beaming Woodlands resident, Ruthellen Hinton, as she left the theatre: “What a legacy their dad left them!”
Readers wishing to have a sample of the boys in action may visit the band’s promotional link at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3vdaf3FSnk

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About The People's Critic

David Dow Bentley III, writes columns about the performing arts which are featured in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast. A member of the Lambs Club, he is also editor of The Lambs' Script. Mr. Bentley may be contacted via e-mail at ThePeoplesCritic@earthlink.net.
This entry was posted in Concert Reviews, Miscellaneous Reviews, The Courier Columns, Theater Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to BEATLES Fun Explodes on Crighton Stage

  1. David E. Wessells says:

    I think that David Dow Bentley is one of the best critics. He is kind, and pleasant with his words. It’s a shame that there aren’t more like him. I enjoy reading all his articles. After you have read them, it seems like you were really there yourself.
    Keep up the good work Dow.
    Your friend,
    David E. Wessells

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