Beatles planetarium laser show dazzles

Courtesy of rmsc.org

“The Beatles in Laser Light,” which was held Saturday, Jan.16. at the Rochester Museum and Science Center Strasenburgh Planetarium, was an awe-inspiring and all-out crazy experience.  The event was one of several Saturday night laser shows; the themes of which change monthly. These spectacles of light offer a unique way for audiences to appreciate a band’s music while watching laser beams create shapes right before their eyes.

The Beatles show opened with a “Twist and Shout” laser lights display involving shapes moving to the music and dancing across the huge surface of the planetarium dome. The intensity of the colors and the rhythm were at times overwhelming, leaving the audience wondering if this was how the Beatles felt when they were high. The lights would turn into dazzling and vividly colored prisms, cubes, and other decorative shapes. At times, they would also mimic human forms, twisting and dancing to the beat.

Other effects were softer and more serene. Towards the middle of the show, “Across the Universe” gave audience members’ eyes a rest from the crazy light displays of the opening. The song seemed fitting, seeing as the show took place at a planetarium; images of stars and galaxies were projected onto the screen amidst milder laser effects.

One interesting segment of the show was audio projection from several Beatles’ interviews while pictures of the band members and album covers were shown. This sequence provided the audience with an almost ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at the musicians and their artistic process. This part of the show ended with recordings  from various Beatles concerts of hysterical women who were absolutely enamored with the group. They could not stop gushing to reporters about seeing the band live in concert. These recordings served as a reminder of the Beatles’ popularity.

Some of the effects in the show were better executed than others. During “Octopus’ Garden,” lights shaped like seaweed and schools of fish flitted across the screen. There was even a small, yellow submarine, a tip-of-the-hat to “Yellow Submarine,” a song not featured in the show. Lasers formed the outline of a dolphin playing in the water, and the song ended with a rather sinister looking shark grinning down at the audience.

Other effects were less strong: A face singing to certain songs was at times off-rhythm with the music and strange to watch.

The music during the show covered a large amount of the Beatles’ musical repertoire. Songs ranging from “Eleanor Rigby” to “Strawberry Fields” and the more obscure “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey” played, accompanied by stunning laser effects.

The hour-long show concluded with the aptly placed “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and ended with a bang. First, the planetarium filled with fog, and horizontal lasers displayed clean lines at the front of the screen. This created a beautiful effect that looked like there were fluffy clouds floating among the audience. It appeared as if you were looking at earth from space.

Even though the main focus of the show was the music, the space theme remained visible throughout and reminded the audience that they were in a planetarium. All in all, “The Beatles in Laser Light” was an incredibly unique experience.

Sokol is a member of the class of 2013.



You can contact Drue at dsokol@u.rochester.edu.

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