Beatlemania Now presents a magical, musical tour back in time

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Entertainment,Music,Marie Gullard

For today's lovers of classic rock, the "Fab Four," who performed live in the decade often referred to as the tumultuous '60s, is just a collection of voices on an album or clips in a documentary that they often experience with an older person who "remembers when."

Even then, the touring stopped in 1966, leaving an entire generation wondering what the Beatles' biggest hits from "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and the "Magical Mystery Tour" would have been like if they performed them live onstage. These albums were, in fact, masterpieces of orchestration that would have required a band much larger than four pieces. Now, baby-boomer concertgoers, their kids and their kids' kids can experience the next best thing.

Beatlemania Now is the group of tribute artists performing live at Strathmore on Saturday and offering an astonishing glimpse back to the days when "Hey Jude" and "I am the Walrus" played nonstop on the radio and on turntables worldwide.

"This show is a musical celebration of the '60s," said Nick Sardis, the concert's producer. "We've brought in a 12-piece orchestra so [the artists] can do all of the Beatles' later albums that featured strings and horns."

Onstage
Beatlemania Now
» Where: Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda
» When: 8 p.m. Saturday
» Info: $45 to $60; 301-581-5100; strathmore.org

These artists include the foursome, Graham Alexander as Paul (are the Beatles' last names even necessary?), Scot Michael Arch as John, Christopher Colon as George and Eric James Smith drumming away as Ringo.

These musicians, together with the orchestra, deliver note-for-note renderings of all the classic songs set against a visual backdrop of images that are inextricably tied to the period. Larger-than-life photos capture the joys and achievements of the decade, such as space exploration, "I Have a Dream," "Flower Power," and "Peace and Love." The darker aspects of the era are presented, as well: the Vietnam War, protests in the streets and on college campuses and, most sorrowfully, the murders of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.

The 20-plus songs in the show are punctuated with no less than four costume changes.

"We're always updating the costumes, changing the staging and adding new songs," Sardis explained.

And through all of that, even the fans who were lucky enough to see the "Fab Four" perform as a foursome will experience for the first time (along with the "youngsters") the Beatles' later works -- the music that transcends time and generations -- performed live.

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