By: G.H. Harding

Debbie Gibson

FACE OFF --- Whatever happened to the summer-replacement show Sing Your Face Off? In May, ABC announced that it would appear sometime this summer. With host John Barrowman, and judges Debbie Gibson, Darell Hammond and (just-added) Ru Paul. 

It sounded as random as any reality show, yet promised some intrigue, as the actual contestants were the stars themselves, with comedian Jon Lovitz immediately mentioned as one of the first entrees. Six episodes have already been shot, but when we called ABC we were given the proverbial cold shoulder. Usually this means what was shot … stinks! We'll see what happens.

LET IT BE ONSTAGE --- As a die-hard Beatles fan; I was intrigued from day one when Let It Be-A Celebration of the Music of The Beatles went up on the boards. I lived through the very first Beatles-Broadway presentation of Beatlemania, where the tag line was Not The Beatles, But An Incredible Simulation. This Let It Be wants to have it both ways - the first act is almost a historical presentation of the early-day of Beatlemania; from their humble beginnings at the Cavern Club to their sold-out show at Shea Stadium in 1965.

Footage from the 60’s (commercials and all) appear on the many TV-monitors scattered throughout the theater. They want you to think that you’re watching actual footage from The Lads at Shea … but, you're really not. The fellow who mimics Ed Sullivan in introducing them on his eponymous TV show is really doing a very, very poor imitation of him. In fact, it’s almost laughable …especially if you remember Ed first-hand.

The music is outstanding “Twist and Shout,” “She Loves You,” “Drive My Car,” “Yesterday,” and that’s the point. The cast includes Graham Alexander, John Brosnan, Ryan Coath, James Fox, Reuven Gershon, Chris McBurney, Luke Roberts, Ryan Alex Farmery, John Korba and Daniel A. Weiss, and for the most part all do a serviceable job. They all mimic the four real Beatles fairly well. When the Lennon-actor is essaying the real appearance at Shea, the right side of his jacket is pulled back halfway, as it was in the original show. Also, Lennon’s stance is mimed perfectly. Details I know … but, I suspect these little Easter egg moments were included for true fans like me.

Let It Be began as a West End production to celebrate the group’s 50th Anniversary. Using projection technology and 3D sound, it’s an adventurous and ultimately satisfying production. The show I caught last night was filled to the brim with tourists, obviously enjoying the music and their memories of those halcyon times. I found it surprising, when at one point you hear a bit of that other madcap group from the 60’s … The Monkees. Odd, right?

The second act of the show is where the concept changes just a bit; wherein the group members actually begin to address the audience. The TV screens go blank and suddenly, it’s like you're at a VH1 acoustic show with the lads all playing acoustic guitars. The last few numbers, “The Long And Winding Road,” “Get Back,” "Come Together," and "The End” remind all of just how powerful their music was … and, still is.

The reproduction of the music is pretty spot on, although at times I did hear an extra guitar riff and harmony change. The songs are not all in perfect chronological order, which bothered me just a bit, but, in all, the music’s the thing; timeless, brilliant and oh so beautiful.

The show is at the St. James Theatre on 44th street, New York City.

FAREWELL DENNIS --- We lost a terrific actor earlier this week, Dennis Farina; who thrilled audiences every time he appeared on screen. From Michael Mann’s Thief, the TV show Crime Story, and, his breakout roles in Get Shorty, Saving Private Ryan, Striking Distance, Snatch, That Old Feeling , Out of Sight, as well as his starring-role on Law & Order and his role with Dustin Hoffman on HBO’s-doomed Luck, he was just sensational.

Born and raised in Chicago, he joined the city police force and was an 18-year-veteran in his 40’s when director Mann hired him as consultant for one of his movies, thus kicking off an incredible career.

My favorite Farina-moment was his role in Shorty; when meeting with hard-luck producer Gene Hackman in his seedy Hollywood-office … and, whacking him with a box. Check it out HERE:  He'll be missed big time. Rest easy Dennis.

SUMMER SONG ---  Usually there’s one die-hard song of the summer; and, half-way through this current one, it appears to be Robin Thicke’s irresistible “Blurred Lines.” I have to be honest, at the beginning of the summer, I wondered why I hadn't yet heard this song. Turns out … I had.

Thicke does his best Robert Palmer-impression - Palmer, the great rock/soul singer of the 70’s and 80’s (“Addicted To Love”) . It’s a great track; a simmering song of the summer and the video isn't half bad either.