Q&A with Paul Curatolo from the Broadway Smash Hit Beatles Musical RAIN soon in LONDON for the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Album
- Published on Monday, 10 July 2017 16:04
- Last Updated on 10 July 2017
- Monica Costa
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The musical Rain is a Tribute to the Beatles celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the release of The Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. The celebration Begins on the 1st of October 2017 with Nationwide theatre tour dates, culminating with 3 nights at the London Palladium. Read my interview with band leader Paul Curatolo who interprets Paul McCartney 🙂
Dubbed the next best thing to the real Beatles, RAIN performs the full range of The Beatles’ discography live onstage, including the most complex and challenging songs that The Beatles themselves recorded in the studio but never performed for an audience. In addition to the updated sets that include brand new LED, High-Definition screens and multimedia content, RAIN will bring the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album to life in its entirety with the launch of the 2017 Tour.
Together longer than The Beatles, RAIN has mastered every song, gesture and nuance of the legendary foursome, delivering a totally live, note-for-note performance that’s as infectious as it is transporting. Let RAIN take you back with all of the songs from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band along with all of your other Beatles favourites such as “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Hard Day’s Night,” “Let It Be,” “Come Together,” “Hey Jude” and more! This adoring tribute will take you back to a time when all you needed was love, and a little help from your friends!
RAIN LONDON TOUR DATES October 2017
Thursday 5th London Palladium
Friday 6th London Palladium
Saturday 7th London Palladium
Paul Curatolo talks about the forthcoming UK tour, The Beatles, Sgt Pepper’s Stage Costumes, London Palladium shows, learning to play the guitar like Paul McCartney & much more
Q: The Beatles first appeared and performed at The London Palladium on 13th October 1963. How do you feel about performing there in October and on the same stage almost 54 years to the day?
We’ve had the good fortune of performing at quite a few places that The Beatles played, and whenever we do, it feels extra special. To step on the stage, in the very spot that John Lennon did, and have the honor of playing some of the same songs, is just, as a Beatles fan, a truly surreal feeling. I’m glad so many of these venues exist – many don’t – but there do seem to be a good handful of venues that The Beatles played, that still exist, and I hope to play a lot more of them. And then, of course, add in the Palladium’s history outside of The Beatles’ performances there, and it’s just too much to wrap your head around!
Q: Have you personally met any of the original Beatles band members?
I haven’t yet, but I’m always hopeful. I’ve certainly seen both of them in concert many times, but have yet to meet them face to face. They always say, ‘don’t meet your heroes’, y’know, you’re always apt to be let down, but I don’t think that would be the case with Paul & Ringo. They seem to be truly good people, which is especially amazing considering the things they’ve been through, in their career, and in their lives. I have met Yoko, though, as well as John & Yoko’s son Sean, and both of them were very sweet, kind, and genuine, so that was a very nice experience.
Q: How different would you say you are from the other Beatles tribute acts?
It’s funny how, as many Beatles groups exist out there, and we’re basically all doing the same general thing, paying tribute to the same group, so playing generally the same songs, wearing the same sort of costumes, etc., just about every band & show I know of has tried to do it their own way, portray their version of The Beatles, tell the Beatles story their own way, which I think is great. I know RAIN, from the start, came at it from a musician’s standpoint. It was always a case of finding the very best musicians out there, the best singers, and really homing in on replicating the sounds of the original records, translating that to a live forum, the best way possible. Sonically speaking, RAIN has always led in that way. The whole costume, look-alike, theatrics, as important as that is, comes second to really paying tribute to the real reason we all love The Beatles, why they matter so much – the music, their sound.
Q: In your opinion which Beatles song from the album Sgt Peppers has the best lyrics, and why?
Oh my god, best? Everything The Beatles did was the best. It’s so hard to say which song is better than the next, especially when it comes to the Pepper album. The lyrics , like the music, of this album, just really brought the genre of pop song to a whole new level, one that we see to this day in music. From the whole idea of creating this new persona with the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, to the Lewis Carroll-inspired beauty of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, the introspective brutal honesty of Getting Better, the philosophical musings of Within You Without You, the theatrical Mr. Kite, the –straight-from-the-headlines style of Good Morning Good Morning and A Day In the Life, how do you possibly choose? These are lyrics we fans are all still wowing over.
Q: What was your first experience of The Beatles?
The Beatles have quite literally ALWAYS been a part of my life. My parents were Beatles fans, and would always play their music in the house. Their music is mixed in my head right along with Sesame Street, children’s stuff like Row Row Row Your Boat and Mary Had a Little Lamb, and the like. They’ve just always been there. I have older sisters who were Beatles fans as little girls in the ‘60s, so they had all the posters, T-shirts, 45s, and such, and at some point I found it all boxed up with the other old stuff up in the attic. I pulled it all down, claimed it all for myself, and immersed myself in my own personal Beatlemania. I’ve been a huge fan ever since, collecting every record, book, and video I could get my hands on over the years.
Q: Which Beatles song did you first learn to play, and at what age?
Hmm, hard to say for sure. My first instrument was the drums, which I learned at 5. I wanted to be Ringo! So I’m sure I played some Beatles songs on drums at that point, but I don’t remember. Pretty quickly, though, I realized I wanted to sing, so eventually I decided I wanted to learn guitar to accompany my singing. My parents gave me my first guitar on my 10th birthday, and that I do remember – I learned “Twist & Shout” as soon as I could figure out what the chords were, and I could learn to form them on the guitar!
Q: If you had one question that you could ask The Beatles, what would it be?
Wow, that’s such a big question. There’s so much I would want to tell them, let them know how much they mean to me, how their words & music have inspired me, and thank them so much for making my life, and the whole world, a better place. But ask them? Hmm, that’s a tough one. I guess I would love to know how they see the whole Beatles experience from their perspective. John seemed to pack a lot of years into his short time on Earth, I would ask him his thoughts on peace, standing up for the things you believe in, etc. I guess picking up songwriting tips from Lennon & McCartney wouldn’t be a bad thing, either!
Q: So far what has been the response to the show on Broadway and on tour?
The response has been incredible! We’ve met so many Beatles fans over the years, young & old, old & new, from all countries, languages, walks of life. Music is something that brings people together, and The Beatles’ music especially so. When we were on Broadway, we’d meet a lot of people who had the New York Beatles experiences – either they’d gone out to Kennedy airport to see The Beatles fly in on February 7th, 1964, or they’d somehow gotten tickets to the Ed Sullivan theater to see their performance on that show two days later, or were at Shea Stadium for their concerts there. I had a few people tell me they’d seen John & Yoko on the streets of New York, and they said they were always nice, friendly and approachable. Around the world, though, we always seem to find Beatles fans who want to come to our show, and for a couple of hours suspend disbelief and just feel like they’re seeing The Beatles, and we try to give them that.
Q: Have Paul or Ringo seen the show yet?
No, we’ve put out the invitation of course, but they haven’t come to the theater and seen the show in our audience. Which I can understand, y’know, to us their story is the stuff of legend, but for them it was their lives, their childhood, their youth, their life experience with their friends, some of whom are gone. It must be terribly personal, I can’t imagine seeing my life played out by actors on a stage, even if we do what we do with the utmost respect and care. So I guess it’s understandable. Not to mention they’d be mobbed by all of the Beatle fans in our audience if they were sitting amongst them, I’d guess! I’m always hopeful, though.
Q: The Sgt Peppers costumes are opulent in design and striking in colour – do you feel like you morph into the character instantly, or is there a method and process?
I love The Beatles fashions – they really had a great sense of style! So any time we get to wear their various costumes – the black Edwardian-style suits, the Shea Stadium jackets, the Sgt. Pepper suits, etc. – it’s a lot of fun, and yes, definitely helps us to get into character. You gotta look the part! Just as we are with the music, we try to get as authentic as possible with the costumes. Our Ed Sullivan suits and Shea jackets were made by a guy, Russ Lease, who owns the real things, and had them replicated. My Beatle boots come from Anello & Davide, the London company who made the real boots for The Beatles. (And because I’m a vegetarian and animal lover like Paul, I had mine made bespoke in faux leather just like Paul’s current boots).
The costumer who did our Sgt. Pepper suits has studied nothing but those suits for years, collecting every photograph, every bit of video, you name it, so that she made the perfect, most authentic suit. I took samples of fabric from her collection along with me to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, where John’s Pepper suits is on display, so that I could hold them up side by side, compare and contrast, and see which fabrics were closest to the real thing. It’s definitely a passion for us, getting everything as spot-on as we possibly can.
Paul Curatolo (McCartney), How difficult was it for you to re-learn playing the guitar upside down as per Sir Paul McCartney’s style?
I actually learned how to play the bass left handed (strung properly.) It was very challenging at first but after a few months of “reprogramming” my brain it clicked. Now it comes second nature to me and I’m so glad that I did it, because it brings such authenticity to our look!
Q: Steve Landes (Lennon): You’ve performed with the original drummer Pete Best – is he the best? When John Lennon was asked if Ringo was a good drummer, he responded quote “Ringo is not even the best drummer in The Beatles” How does this translate with Rain?
(For the record, that quote about Ringo ‘not even being the best drummer in The Beatles’ as having come from John has largely been de-bunked. It’s said it actually came from a comedian in the ‘80s, and somehow over the years somehow eventually became inaccurately attributed to John). I did get a chance to perform with Pete Best once, at his house outside of Liverpool. In the cellar is a club he and his mom Mona put together, with the help of John, Paul, & George. All of their artwork is still up on the walls, and so it was a lot of fun, and very surreal to play on that stage (another one of those Beatles stages that I’ve played, like the London Palladium soon!), especially with one of the three people left on this planet that can say they were a Beatle at some point in their life. He’s a very sweet guy, genuine, unassuming, sincere guy, and I loved talking to him. He’s a very good drummer. And also, I always hate to see people underestimate Ringo’s drumming – he’s an amazing drummer, one of the best rock drummers ever, and definitely the perfect drummer for The Beatles. He had perfect timing, and perfect taste. He knew how to complement Lennon & McCartney’s songwriting style, and yet come up with an incredible unique style of playing that people are copying to this day.
Q: Ringo said “The biggest memory I have of Sgt. Pepper is I learning to play chess. Have any of you discovered a new talent whilst on tour and performing together?
I can definitely understand Ringo’s quote! Though he was talking more about the studio recording process, it can be very similar on the road. We’re on stage for two hours a night, and the rest is just everything else that comes with life on the road – travel on a tour bus, hotels, catching up on what little sleep you can find here & there, sound checks. We actually have a lot of fun at sound checks, jamming on songs – Beatles songs we don’t usually do in the show, or just anything outside of Beatles. We’ve jammed on everything from Elvis to Adele! I’ve often said we should sell tickets to the sound check. It might not be the best show for your money, but you’d definitely laugh! As for talents that keep us busy on the road, I’d say honing our songwriting skills. I often wonder what it would’ve been like had The Beatles had the recording capabilities on laptop computers like we have now. You can write and record your own album on a laptop, and many have, including our cast members while on the tour bus!
Q: How long is a performance, what should fans expect, is the show for the entire family ?
Our show is about two and half hours long, with a short intermission (interval). We recreate The Beatles entire career, from 1963-64, when they took over the world, to 1969-70, when they broke up. Many costumes changes to reflect the different eras, a lot of multi-media – contemporary footage from the ‘60s, new original video montages to accompany the songs, even live video of the audience at times! We perform live in character some of the best music ever made – the songs of Lennon & McCartney, and George Harrison. Hits like “Hey Jude”, “Revolution”, I Want To Hold Your Hand”, and many many more. And this tour of course, we’ve also included the entire Sgt. Pepper album, so you’re getting a lot of bank for your buck (or quid!) this time around. Not only suitable for the entire family, but a perfect way for families to come together and celebrate some of the greatest music ever; songs with positive messages of peace & love!
RAIN embark on their UK tour in October kicking off at Glasgow Clyde on 1st, Llandudno Venue Cymru, Wales on the 2nd, Portsmouth Guildhall on 4th with The London Palladium dates launching on the 5th running 4 performances, tickets can be purchased via See Tickets: www.seetickets.com/search?q=rain+the+beatles
RAIN on Facebook www.facebook.com/RainTribute, Twitter @raintribute, Instagram: @RainTribute and check out performances via YouTube www.youtube.com/RainTribute
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums