Mark VidalArts Editor
Popular Beatles tribute band the Fab Four transformed Chaffey High School’s auditorium into the Ed Sullivan Show for a two hour Beatles Benefit Show April 4.
Beatles fans of all ages piled into the Gardiner Spring Auditorium, many stopping in front of the colorful stage to admire the 10 guitars and bases lined up around the drum set and keyboard.
“I’m really excited about this year’s turnout,” said Women of Vision chairwoman, Martha Romero. “This is our second year. The audience has doubled from last year’s Fab Four concert.”
Women of Vision is a volunteer ministry of Christian women who help meet the needs of the local community and the world.
It is a subdivision of World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian organization serving the poor across the globe.
After a short session of Beatles trivia, eager fans were reminded what the evening was all about before The Fab Four took the stage.
“Half the world’s population lives on just $2 a day,” Marilee Pierce Dunker, World Vision advocate said. “You knew that you were coming to have your eyes opened to learn about our work. With World Vision we can do more than just imagine what we can do to help these Children.” Dunker is the daughter of World Vision founder Bob Pierce.
After a short video presentation on World Vision’s efforts, the proscenium curtains came down and a man impersonating Ed Sullivan took the audience back to Feb. 9, 1964.
As he introduced the new group from Liverpool, England, the audience realized they were going back in time to witness the Beatles’ first live American television appearance.
The audience cheered as Ardy Sarraf, who played Paul McCartney; Michael Amador, who played George Harrison; Rolo Sandoval, who played Ringo Starr; and Ron McNeil, who played John Lennon, came on stage and played the first song of the night, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” followed by “All My Loving,” which was dedicated to all the ladies in the audience.
“I love the early 1960s era, with their little tuxes and bowl cuts,” Amanda Walters said, a prospective Cal Poly Pomona student.
Between songs, a video played behind the stage showing real life footage of crazy young Beatles fans from the 1960s, many of them young girls, crying and desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of the group.
The Fab Four got the audience up on their feet with “A Hard Day’s Night” and their hands clapping with “Eight Days a Week,” but it was “Can’t Buy Me Love” that sent some audience members over the top.
A man and woman abandoned their seats and blocked the front row with their sporadic dancing and singing, irritating some and amusing others.
However, it was not long until the intermission forced them to take their seats.
During the 20 minute break, show goers had the opportunity to sign up in the foyer to sponsor a needy child and purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win passes to Disneyland, an Anaheim Angels game and a Los Angeles Dodgers game among other prizes.
After a few tongue-in-cheek comments from a seemingly disoriented Ed Sullivan impersonator, the Fab Four dressed in multicolored Sgt. Pepper costumes and took the stage for the second half of the show.
“I grew up with this,” Marybeth Mikel of Chino Hills said. “Yes, I’m that age.”
The Fab Four got the energetic audience worked up again with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Day Tripper” and “Penny Lane,” but things got serious when McNeil, dressed in white, took center stage by himself.
“There was a man who wrote about peace and love, he may have been one of your heroes,” McNeil said. “I dedicate this song to anyone who believes in peace and freedom.”
Cell phones and lighters swayed in the air as McNeil sat at his keyboard and sang “Imagine.”
“I loved how they gave them a chance to sing their solo songs,” Walters said.
Following McNeil’s solo, each Beatle took center stage to perform a solo hit.
The “Beatles” then joined to unite the audience with “Revolution.”
Everyone got up on their feet for what The Fab Four said would be the last song of the night.
However, the audience thought otherwise.
An encore called the band back for one last time to play “Hey Jude.”
“‘Hey Jude’ was definitely my favorite,” Debbie Simnon of Chino Hills said.
More than 1,200 people filled the seats of the Gardiner Spring Auditorium.
Despite the economic climate, Women of Vision gained 50 new donors.
Concert proceeds supported the building of water wells in war torn Sierra Leone, Africa to provide needed supplies to the homeless locally in Ontario.
For more information on how to help or make a contribution to the organization, call 909-621-7790.
The Fab Four will play again on May 10 at the Canyon Theatre in Agoura Hills.
Mark Vidal can be reached a firstname.lastname@example.org.