After 20 years at the University of Oregon, I have retired. So, I will begin posting about my new experiences here and hope you find them interesting.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Beatlemania Show creates treasured memory

As a child of the 60s I was raised during the years when the Beatles soared to stardom and I collected all of their albums until they drifted into the drug culture in the late 60s and embarked on their "mystical" journey with the Maharishi Yogi.

However, as much as I loved their music, I never had the opportunity to see them live, in concert. I was raised in a little logging and fishing community on the southern Oregon coast (Bandon) and there were no casinos outside the state of Nevada then and no real concert venues anywhere close by. I didn't even get a chance to watch the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show because we could only get one channel on the television set in our little town and the Ed Sullivan Show was not on it.

Of course I went to the movies and saw "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help" but never had a chance to taste the sheer exhilaration and magic that only a live performance can bring. So, when I saw an ad in the paper all these years later for a "Beatlemania" concert starring the original Broadway performers I mentioned it hopefully to my husband. He sort of grunted but didn't say anything more about it until the day before the concert was to take place. Then, when I had reconciled myself to missing my last chance to see "sort of" the Beatles in concert, he pipes up and says, "Well aren't we going to Florence to see that concert?"

I could hardly believe it - I thought he wasn't listening and really wasn't interested since he was slogging through the rice paddies in Vietnam during that time of his life and the only Beatles song he and his hooch mates had was an old 45 of Yellow Submarine that he says got played over and over again.

So, I threw some necessities into a suitcase and away we went. I wasn't going to give him a chance to change his mind!

As it turns out, Joe was more than just a little anxious to go to the concert himself although a Vietnam Vet with PTSD does not usually let on when he is more than casually interested in something. He insisted that we get there early so we ended up in Florence just before lunch. We decided to go down to the waterfront and have chowder and seafood at our usual place, Mo's. When we got there we found there was a custom car show set up along the street so we got an early taste of nostalgia as we walked among the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s hotrods with peach paint jobs, chromed engines, and lavish tuck-and-roll interiors.

The lady at the cashier's desk of the Three Rivers Casino cautioned me that if I wanted a good seat at the Beatlemania show, we'd better show up about an hour and a half before hand. I thought my husband might object since he doesn't like standing in line for anything but he seemed willing to do whatever was necessary to ensure the best experience. Fortunately, they let us in after only thirty minutes so we sat and listened to a mix of 60s music from such artists as The Monkees, Hermans Hermits and The Dave Clark Five".

When the moment finally came and the stars of Beatlemania (Alan LaBoeuf as Paul McCartney, David Leon as John Lennon, Carrol Parker as Ringo Starr, and David Brighton as George Harrison - I think!) dashed on stage and struck the first few cords of "I Want To Hold Your Hand", I was instantly mesmerized and couldn't get enough as the group tripped through song after song of my old favorites. I noticed that they even used the same mannerisms as I had seen the Beatles exhibit in video clips of their performances. "Paul" stood with his knees and feet together rocking his head from side to side and "John" stood with his legs apart with one leg slightly forward and his knees bent just as I had seen the real John stand in videos I had watched.

The group divides their act into three parts that they call "Coming to America", "Psychedelia" , and "End of an Era". Of course I loved the first act the best since I knew all the songs by heart and found myself clapping and singing along. I did get a bang out of the "over the top" costumes of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" in the second act and loved how the group belted out that classic song too. They didn't even stop singing when they changed costumes. One of the group would stay on stage singing a famous solo like "Yesterday" or "Imagine" while the others hurried off stage to change into outfits appropriate for the next segment.

I looked over and even Joe was grinning although I couldn't quite get him to join in when they sang "Hey Jude!" It was like being 16 again (without all the angst!!) for a brief hour and a half. I looked around at the rest of the audience and although most of us had silver in our hair and couldn't see or hear as well as we used to we were all swaying, clapping and in some cases, wiggling and squealing (I didn't go quite THAT far!!) like those teens all those years ago on the Ed Sullivan Show.
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