lunes, 17 de septiembre de 2012

Beatles on stage again

"We've been Beatles for a long time," John Lennon tells me at the bar in the Prince of Wales theatre. "Ever since I was a small boy I've been studying for this job."

"John", short and tanned, with dark hair and a hint of eyeliner, does not actually look much like Lennon, because he isn't. He's actually Michael Gagliano, breaking from a rehearsal for new Beatles musical Let It Be. Each night, Gagliano must become a living Lennon for two-and-a-half hours as part of the cast of the musical, which follows the Beatles' music from Love Me Do in 1962 to their breakup in 1970.

Those involved in Let It Be aren't attempting to rewrite the story of the Beatles, and have opted instead for a hyper-precise tribute, all songs and and no dialogue, that they hope will emulate the look and sound of their heroes well enough for the audience to believe they are watching the Liverpool lads in full swing.

It is a gamble. For one thing, almost none of the cast look like their corresponding Beatles. There are two men per Beatle, eight in all. Emanuele Angeletti, a former Italian X-Factor contestant who plays an amiable Paul McCartney, came to know Lennon and McCartney's music separately while growing up. "I liked Paul McCartney so much, Ebony And Ivory with Stevie Wonder, which I listened to every day, and Beautiful Boy by John Lennon, and one day my father told me: 'There is a band where Paul and John sing things together, they're called The Beatles'," he said.

Angeletti formed a band, then joined a Beatles band, and has never stopped trying to be the perfect McCartney. After auditioning with his band in London for Let It Be, he was the only one chosen for a part. Angeletti's spoken English is heavily accented, but his singing voice is unbelievably close to the subtle but distinctive quality of McCartney's vocals.

Each member of the cast has a moment they recall as irrevocably converting them to the way and light of the Beatles. For Stephen Hill, a George Harrison with the hair and boyish features that make him the sole cast member who might be mistaken for his guitarist twin, it was Help!

He said: "Hearing Help! is like being punched in the face with music, for me. In a good way. Help! What's that? Within five seconds you know what that song is. It's got to be right. What we're aiming for is for people to say 'I've just seen the Beatles' - as extreme as that may sound."

Back at the bar with now not one, but two John Lennons, Reuven Gershon explains why he wanted to be a Beatle rather than play his own songs, or those of any other rock band, for that matter. "I love the Beatles music, but luckily I'm able to impersonate one of the Beatles. I'm not black and I can't play guitar like Jimi Hendrix, so I can't do that, though I would if I could. One of the things I love the most is that I can play and sing like John Lennon and I'm just happy to be able to do that."

Gagliano sees Let It Be as the pinnacle of what is possible for a Beatles obsessive. "The Beatles bands are like any other industry. There's different levels of competence and of abilities. You start off and it's like a ladder, the better you get the better band you join and the better the people are you play with."

After all, he said, "This is the biggest Beatles job on the planet." THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
by Jennifer O’Mahony

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