Peter Noone gets into the act with Herman’s Hermits
Singer comfortable with entertainer moniker
When Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone returns to Park City for a four-night run at the Egyptian Theatre, audiences will not only get to hear the music from the 1960s, they’ll get to see Noone tap into his 16-year-old self who created a distinctive stage presence.
Herman’s Hermits was one of the British Invasion bands took the United States by storm in the wake of The Beatles, and Noone, who by default, took on the persona of the bandleader Herman and was known for his boyish good looks and charming song delivery, which he credits to acting.
“Before I was in a band, I was in a television series and in an amateur dramatic society in England,” Noone said during a telephone call to The Park Record from a show stop in Delray, Florida. “I also went to a school of music that had a drama class and an elocution class, so I could be understood.”
The singer, who will play the Egyptian Theatre starting Thursday, March 9, still uses those skills he picked up when he was acting when he performs today.
“It all is part of the whole jumble,” he said. “Everything you do in theater is an asset to how you perform a concert.”
Noone promised he and his band will play hits that include “I’m Into Something Good,” “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Henry VIII, I Am,” “Silhouettes,” “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat,” “Just A Little Bit Better,” “Wonderful World” and “There’s a Kind of Hush.” He added they would play them as perfect as they can.
“The secret of keeping the songs fresh is to get them right,” Noone said. “It’s the constant strive for perfection.”
The singer’s trick is to get into the mindset of who he was when he first started singing those songs.
“I learned a lot from the Stanislavski acting method, which is helpful if you’re going to be a 68-year-old person singing, ‘Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,’“ he said. “I have to quickly get that feeling of a 16-year-old boy and continue it when we do ‘I’m Into Something Good.’ I feel it helps a song’s life if audiences can believe that I’m that character that is singing the lyrics.”
Noone didn’t fully understand that until he appeared in “Pirates of Penzance” with Jim Belushi in the 1980s.
“Jim and I we toured that show and eventually got on Broadway,” Noone said. “If I do a play now, all the stuff I learned by being Herman would be just as useful as the things I learned from being Frederick on Broadway.”
Noone also learned to be aware of what other actors or musicians were doing on stage.
“I learned that if you don’t do that, you can miss something important,” he said. “Luckily I have guys on stage who know what they’re doing, and if they goof up, we laugh.”
Noone remembered his first appearance on TV when he was a 12-year-old actor in England.
“I was on a major television show that was a live broadcast,” he said. “Well, I wasn’t listening and my big line came up and I missed it. So, somebody else said it for me.”
Luckily, no one who was watching caught the mistake.
“That’s when I learned how those people knew how to take care of each other,” Noone said. “I realized if someone [messed] up, you have to be able to cover for it so the audience won’t see it.”
Still, Noone keeps the audience in mind every time he gets on stage.
“Although I’m a performer, I am also an audience for other [artists] as well,” he said. “I have the same experiences at other people’s shows that people have when they come see us. What I’m saying is that I can go see ZZ Top or Gerry and The Pacemakers or the Rolling Stones and Bruno Mars and get that buzz.”
Because he has an idea of what listeners like, Noone makes sure he plays songs that will touch the audience.
“For example, I started singing this song ‘The End of the World’ a long time ago,” he said. “The only reason why I sing it is because this guy Allen Klein, the owner of a label I was on, liked it. He kept putting it in our Greatest Hits even though it wasn’t a hit.
“Anyway, I remember singing this song a few weeks ago and I see this couple who were maybe in their 60s, holding hands,” Noone said. “I’m touched by stuff like that.
People know these songs and that makes me happy.”
After a moment of reflection, Noone announced that he doesn’t think of himself as a musician.
“Here I am all of these years later still doing this because somewhere along the way I stopped being a musician and started becoming an entertainer,” he said. “That’s much better because you’re with Danny Kaye and Dick Van Dyke. I think I’m going to change my passport.”
Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone will play at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, March 9-11, and at 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 12, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. Thursday tickets range from $39 to $65 and Friday, Saturday and Sunday tickets range from $43 to $70. Tickets can be purchased by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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