NEW YORK —
The producers of “Let It Be” are being sued for copyright infringement by the Rain Corp., which produces the rival touring show “Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles.” The Rain Corp. claims it laid the foundation for the new production as a “joint author” but hasn’t been compensated or credited.
In its lawsuit, the Rain Corp., which brought its show to Broadway in 2010, claims it taught the new group the ropes — the dialogue, the look of the show, staging, the song list and even the blocking.
Fox and Gershon acknowledge meeting and working with Rain Corp. veterans for their show but insist their work stands on its own. “Anybody that imitates the Beatles in some respects is doing a similar thing,” says Fox.
The two are scrambling to finish their work — “I Am the Walrus” and “Penny Lane” still must be placed in the lineup — and are worrying about that, not the lawsuit. “It will affect us if it makes the show close and we’re out of work,” says Gershon, somewhat grimly.
Neither show has the rights to tell a behind-the-scenes band story. What they’ve done is licensed Lennon-McCartney songs — augmented by no more than two George Harrison tunes per show — from Sony/ATV, the Beatles’ publishing company. They play their set of songs chronologically.
“We tell the story through music and costume changes,” says Jeff Parry, a producer long associated with “Rain” who now produces “Let It Be.” “It’s the story, but not the ‘Jersey Boys’ version.”
Parry says the new show differs from “Rain” in that it was built for a West End theater not a tour, has younger performers than in “Rain” and starts the show at Liverpool’s Cavern Club, whereas the rival show begins in 1964 with the Beatles’ appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”