Evening Standard, Hulton Archive LONDON (AP) - Miles and Jimi. Jimi and Miles.…
- Posted on Dec 1st 2010 4:17PM by David Chiu
Cylla von Tiedemann
"I walked in and he goes, 'Are you here for Paul?'" Curatolo tells Spinner. "I threw the packages down and went, 'Yes.' He goes, 'Let me see what you could do.' I got up on stage and did a medley of songs. Five weeks later, I was at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles."
Thus, the Brooklyn-born Curatolo became Paul McCartney in 'Beatlemania' and he's now reprising the role for "Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles,' which is playing on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre. Unlike other musical productions such as 'Mamma Mia!' and 'Jersey Boys,' 'Rain' presents the history of the Beatles using only their music and no storyline.
The 'Rain' tribute band, which was co-founded by keyboardist Mark Lewis, has been around since the '70s. Curatolo and his Beatles look-alike bandmates perform the music live for two hours amidst changing sets and wardrobe. "It's a concert on Broadway," says Curatolo. "It's a feel-good two and a half hours because everybody knows the music. It's quite a gathering."
Aside from the earlier numbers, the show also features songs that the Beatles never performed live after their last formal concert at San Francisco's Candlestick Park in 1966. The choice of what songs to play in the show is influenced by the age of the audience. "When you're on Broadway, there are light cues, a lot of people involved, so we have to stick to a certain format," Curatolo says. "But we have a segment in our show where we play acoustic guitars, which gives us the liberty to be a little bit loose and we can call songs on the fly at that moment. That gives us the ability to keep fresh again. To play this music night after night is not so much where everybody thinks it's a challenge, because when you see the faces every night, they're hearing it for the first time, fresh again. For us, it's fulfilling."
A certain authenticity is achieved at the show not just in the playing, but also in terms of how the other members of 'Rain' -- Steve Landes, Joe Bithorn and Ralph Castelli -- appear very similar to John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, respectively. Curatolo himself bears a very striking resemblance to McCartney both in looks and vocals, although he plays the bass guitar right-handed as opposed to left.
"I chose not to do that for the music's sake," Curatolo explains, "because I did try it and you're not as natural as you are [when] you're right-handed. The musical integrity is important. You make up for it, let's put it that way. It's believable."
So far, the response to 'Rain' on Broadway has been great, says Curatolo, who adds that almost every night brings generations of Beatles fans. "For a lot of the people who lived in the Beatles era, I see a lot of tears," he says. "It's an experience for them because it's a chance for them for two hours to relive their childhood. It really, really is coming across to us because we're feeding off of that energy. They're loving it."
'Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles' is playing at the Neil Simon Theatre in New York through Jan. 9, 2011.