“Fab Four Mania”

"It seems we kill off our heroes," Ron McNeil says in the guise of John Lennon, from the stage of the Sahara.

It’s a sincere moment in "Fab Four Mania," so it’s admittedly cheap to take it out of context and ask, "What city is he in?"

But it’s hard to deny that the death of a pop hero is almost invariably followed by eternal life on the Strip as a tribute show.

"Fab Four Mania," a scrappy little revue that’s hung around in various forms since 2002, now labors in the shadow of the Beatles-sanctioned "Love." The Beatles show shares the Sahara’s theater with an Elvis tribute act, Trent Carlini, who in 2009 will be dealing with a Cirque du Soleil salute to Elvis Presley.

The Sahara show has so far trumped "Fab Forever," which recently threw in the towel downtown at the Four Queens. However, that show’s producer, Jerry Peluso, maintains "There’s seriously enough Beatle business to go around."

"Fab Four Mania" is at least durable enough to bounce from a big stage (the Las Vegas Hilton) to a smaller one (the V Theater) and back to a larger one at the Sahara, which has a genuine Beatles connection: The band stayed there in August 1964 after performing at the Convention Center.

The move doesn’t change things much, beyond adding more dramatic lighting, two more go-go girls and a couple of scenery pieces. Producer David Saxe says he plans to beef up the production value to better fill the stage; perhaps a whole "Yellow Submarine" number with the cartoon sub floating overhead.

For now, the group’s strength remains more in its meticulous attempt to duplicate the Beatles’ studio sound live, balanced by a little jokey showmanship and the fun idea of having an Ed Sullivan impressionist (Paul Terry) tie it all together.

The Sahara theater opened by magician Steve Wyrick in 2000 has never enjoyed a runaway hit, but it finally has a show that sounds great in the room. The group stresses — via a recorded intro from Penn Jillette — that every note is played live.

That stretches even to the George Martin arrangements never done in concert by the real band. The Fab Four evidently figure that if John Paul Jones played synthesizer in concert for Led Zeppelin’s "Kashmir," Lennon and George Harrison might have done the same for "A Day in the Life."

The quartet’s wigs become progressively more realistic after the melted globs affixed to their heads in the early ’60s segment give way to the psychedelic "Sgt. Pepper" and hippie-era "Let It Be" segments.

Having the Lennon character (at some point after press night, founding member McNeil yielded the role to Steve Craig) stretch to the solo years for "Imagine" gives him a gravity never quite matched by Frank Mendonca as a baby-faced Paul McCartney. Gavin Pring is more convincing, albeit with less to do, as George Harrison. Tony Felicetta smiles a lot as Ringo Starr, but at least brings good attitude.

If "Fab Forever" stages a comeback, it promises to change the set list each night and push the Sahara group to shake up a show that’s so far treated as rigidly as a Broadway musical, down to the last joke.

Change could be good for repeat business anyway, and the lads shouldn’t forget their base. Authenticity in areas the band cares about — Frank Mendonca playing left-handed bass as Paul McCartney — is balanced by the informal wise-cracking ("That’s our host, Mr. Ed") that appeals to casual fans while winking at Beatlemaniacs to enjoy the show for what it is, rather than obsess about what it’s not.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0288.

Entertainment Videos
Andrew Carmean will be the only local participant in upcoming demolition derby
Andrew Carmean, a demolition driver, will be the only local participant in upcoming derby at the Plaza Hotel. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masso Osteria first anniversary in Las Vegas
Scott Conant was in town Tuesday to host a one-year anniversary party for his Red Rock Resort restaurant Masso Osteria.
Baked Alaska a specialty at Favorite Bistro in Las Vegas
Award-winning pastry chef Claude Escamilla makes Baked Alaska with strawberry sorbet and vanilla gelato and flames it at Favorite Bistro at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Chili cooks face fierce and friendly competition at Nevada cook-off
Forty chili cooks competed in the Nevada State Chili Cookoff in Pahrump on Sunday, March 17, 2019, with the winners advancing to the World Championship Chili Cook-off in Des Moines, Iowa. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Arcade ‘speakeasy’ leads to secret door and Banksy art in Las Vegas
Arcade ‘speakeasy’ leads to secret door, Banksy art in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hazel in Las Vegas serves modern takes on traditional cocktails
Hazel serves modern takes on traditional cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas celebrates St. Patrick's Day
Tonight the city lit the Welcome sign green, McMullan's Irish Pub and the Guinness store also prepare for this weekend's St. Patrick's Day festivities. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Reuben sandwich at Served in Henderson, near Las Vegas
Matthew Meyer, chef/owner of Served, makes a Reuben sandwich with house-brined corned beef, house-made sauerkraut and gooey melted cheese at his restaurant in Henderson, outside Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Las Vegas day club season returns with big-name DJs
Rick Ross, March 23, at Daylight Beach Club at Mandalay Bay The Chainsmokers, March 30, at Encore Beach Club Marshmello, April 6, Kaos Dayclub at the Palms Chuckie, May 11, Marquee Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Calvin Harris, May 11, Wet Republic at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Pizza expert Chris Bianco makes meatballs in Las Vegas
Chris Bianco, who was the keynote speaker at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, demonstrates meatball making for expo attendees. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas pulmonologist talks about new movie dealing with cystic fibrosis
Dr. Craig Nakamura, Director of Cystic Fibrosis Center of Southern Nevada, talks about the upcoming romantic drama “Five Feet Apart” where both of the lead characters suffer from cystic fibrosis. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
World Pizza Champion crowned in Las Vegas
At the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Italian pizzaiolo Federico De Silvestri took the top prize and more than $12,000. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Italian wins Pizza Maker of the Year at Pizza Expo
Federico De Silvestri of Verona, Italy, wins the finals in the non-traditional pizza category during the International Pizza Challenge at the International Pizza Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center Thursday, March 7, 2019. De Silvestri went on to beat winners from each of the four other categories — traditional, pan, pizza Napoletana and Roman — to win Pizza Maker of the Year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Good Pie Coming To Arts District
Local pizzaiolo Vincent Rotolo says Good Pie is coming to the Arts District. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local comedian says "It's ok to laugh, ...the comedy club is dark."
K-Von, a half-Persian comedian, talks about his style of comedy which keeps audiences entertained.
Pizza Dough Throwing Competition
Contestants participate in the World Pizza Games at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Wednesday night. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
World Pizza Games showcased in Las Vegas
The World Pizza Games, part of the International Pizza Expo, drew competitors from all over the world to Las Vegas to compete in events such as dough stretching and box folding. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Pizza competitors dazzle at international expo
The International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center included the first rounds of the World Pizza Games. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas showcases products and trends
At the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, vegan and gluten-free menu choices and compostable packaging were highlighted, as well as Detroit-style and Roman-style pizza. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Chef Dan Krohmer talks about a new restaurant
Chef Dan Krohmer talks about the construction of his new restaurant at Fremont Street’s Fergusons Downtown complex in downtown Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Neon Museum lights up the Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign
The Neon Museum in Las Vegas flipped the switch on its latest acquisition Monday night, the Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
A Taste of Eataly Las Vegas
Executive Chef Nicole Brisson gives a tour around Eataly Las Vegas, located in the Park MGM. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Order a pretty purple cocktail at North Italia in Las Vegas
Order a pretty purple cocktail at North Italia in Las Vegas (Janna Karel/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Towering triple decker sandwich at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas
Jonah Resnick, executive chef of Sadelle’s, the newest restaurant at Bellagio in Las Vegas, serves a daunting concoction of roast beef layered with house-made cole slaw, turkey and more cole slaw, on rye bread. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Paris Las Vegas Debuts New Eiffel Tower Light Show
The Paris in Las Vegas unveiled its latest Eiffel Tower light show, Wednesday evening. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video: Las Vegas Omelet House Marks 40th anniversary
Omelet House at Charleston Boulevard and Rancho Drive in Las Vegas, which opened in 1979, is a locals’ favorite, known for fluffy six-egg omelets. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Golden Knights' Ryan Reaves readying new beer
Ryan Reaves, a forward with the Golden Knights, has plans for a second beer, a lager, through his 7Five Brewing Co. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Bellagio Adds Lady Gaga To The Fountain Playlist
Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” has been added to the rotation of classic tunes played for the dancing waters at Lake Bellagio. The song debuted at 6 p.m. Monday. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Comedian uses laughter to bring understanding about AIDS
Comedian Brandon Cox Sanford talks about how he uses his comedy sketches to bring light to his AIDS diagnosis. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
20th anniversary of the House of Blues in Las Vegas
Sasha Rincon-Camacho, regional marketing director, talks about the 20th anniversary of the House of Blues in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Home Front Page Footer Listing