In the Beatles tribute concert “Rain,” now playing a brief run on
Broadway, Steve Landes (John), Joe Bithorn (George), Ralph Castelli
(Ringo) and Joey Curatolo (Paul), meticulously recreate the band's
sights and sounds – from “The Ed Sullivan Show” all the way to “Abbey
Road.” We asked the band about what it takes to bring The Beatles back
What's your favorite Beatles song to play?
Landes - It always changes, sometimes night by night, depending on how
I feel, or how the audience reaction is. I love the early stuff
though. Always lots of energy there.
Bithorn - It's hard for me to be limited to just one song. However,
the audiences usually comment on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps".
Castelli - I don't have a favorite Beatle song. I love all of it.
Curatolo - I don't have one. It would be like choosing a child.
Do you consider yourselves to be primarily musicians or actors or both?
Landes - Mainly a musician. That's the foundation of what we do.
Re-create this music live onstage. But with portraying their
characters onstage while we perform the music, we've had to learn how
to be actors, which I have a lot of fun with. But music is always my
Bithorn - I consider myself 70 percent musician, 30 percent actor, although I am
primarily a musician.
Castelli - Musician.
Curatolo - Musicians.
What's the most challenging thing about portraying The Beatles,
whether in terms of music or image?
Landes - Musically, it's a matter of the vocals. People forgot just
how good The Beatles were as singers, solo and together. Their
harmonies locked like nothing else. So you have to be at the top of
your game to do that, and have the right combination of guys to lock
in the harmonies like that. Image-wise, my job is immense. I'm
stepping into some legendary shoes. John's probably the second biggest
rock icon ever, next to Elvis, so I'm always working on really getting
his personality across on the stage.
Bithorn - Both are quite challenging and approached with utmost
respect on our parts.
Castelli - Starr is left-handed, but plays a right-handed drum kit,
contributing to a distinctive drumming style, both audibly and
visually. Starr’s drumming wasn’t just technically proficient. It was
Curatolo - For me it would have to be vocal endurance.
How did you all go about studying and perfecting the style of The Beatles?
Landes - Well for one, it sure helps being the hardcore Beatles geek
that I am. So of course all of the research is fun to do. Musically,
it's just a constant learning process. You can listen to the records
for years, play these songs a million times, and yet there's always
something new to learn all the time, to get what we do more and more
Bithorn - It's an ongoing study and we all learn something about them
musically everyday. The advantages of having various isolated tracks
of their music have really been enlightening.
Castelli - I started out as a drummer and a fan of the Beatles. Ringo
Starr introduced me into my style of drumming. I used the Beatles
songs as the Bible and watch all the movies, music videos, press
Curatolo - We're fans first, so the study of the Beatles naturally
became our passion.
Did any of you get a chance to meet the character you portray?
Landes - I was still a kid when John was killed, so it was quite a
while before I started doing this. So no, I never had a chance to meet
him. I have had the good fortune over the years to meet many of the
people who were close to him -- Yoko, their son Sean, his girlfriend
during his self-described "Lost Weekend" May Pang, The Beatles'
concert promoter Sid Bernstein, etc. And I always try to find out as
much as I can about John from them, without being intrusive of course.
As a fan I want to know more about him, but I also want to bring as
true a portrayal as I can to our stage, and nothing helps more than
hearing about him from those who knew him best.
Bithorn - I was never fortunate enough to have had that opportunity.
Castelli - I have not met them, yet.
Curatolo – No, Not Yet.
Do you consider “Rain” to be primarily a musical or a concert?
Landes - If I had to pick I would say a concert, but it really is more
than that. It tells the story of who The Beatles were, what they meant
to us, why they're just as relevant as ever. It does that in musical
form -- their music is the focus as it should be.
Bithorn - I consider it to be a celebration of The Beatles music
performed in the live environment by ourselves and the audience so it
might have to be considered a bit of both.
Castelli - Rock concert with a theatrical element to supplement the concert
Curatolo – Concert.
If you go: “Rain” plays at the Neil Simon Theatre through January 9.
250 W. 52nd St., 877-250-2929. Raintribute.com.