‘Beatlemania’ cast will rekindle at the Egyptian
Drummer Daniel Gerass, bandleader for "The L.A. Cast of ‘Beatlemania,’" wanted bandmates who would have fun playing the Beatles’ music like they used to when they were growing up.
"I mean, we are not the Beatles, and I’m sure the audience knows that," Gerass said during a phone interview with The Park Record. "I wanted the musicians to portray the band, but not be so stale that they look like robots or every other Beatles tribute out there."
Gerass plays Ringo Starr and has recruited some world-renowned Beatles impersonators for the touring music revue, which will perform at the Egyptian Theatre on Dec. 26 and Dec. 27.
The band includes Dan Carson as Paul McCartney, Peter George as John Lennon and Rick Pizana as George Harrison.
"I looked for cast members who would just play the characters," Gerass said. "I looked for musicians who would look like they enjoy being on stage."
Gerass’s connection with "Beatlemania," which started as a Broadway musical that was conceived and produced by Steve Leber and David Krebs in 1977, goes back 25 years.
"When the original ‘Beatlemania’ show was put together, they held a bunch of auditions, and as the cast developed, the musicians were sent to classes to learn how to play and portray the Beatles," Gerass explained. "It was almost like a schooling system."
When a branch of the production moved to California, Gerass met a lot of the cast members, and eventually got involved with the show.
"I was able to work with Leber and Krebs and with Mitch Weissman who played Paul in the original cast in New York," Gerass said. "My first gig with the show was actually in Reno, Nevada. We packed the show every night, and then we were offered a long-term gig in Japan in 1982, and I lived there for quite a while."
When "The L.A. Cast of ‘Beatlemania’" comes to Park City, it will play songs from every Mop Top era, including tunes that were never performed live.
"We do songs from ‘Abbey Road,’ ‘The White Album’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,’" Gerass said. "And we play songs that they played live like ‘She Loves You’ and ‘Love Me Do.’"
The band decides on what songs to play for each performance.
"I try to be diplomatic and ask what songs they want to play, because I don’t want to control the whole list," Gerass said. "I want the other guys to be able to play their favorites, too.
"Also, when you get too regimented, it takes the soul out of the performance," he said. "And that’s not doing anyone any favors."
Gerass said he enjoys interpreting Ringo Starr because of his drumming style.
"His parts were like guitar licks to me," Gerass explained. "He played a great beat, but when he would do a fill, he knew exactly where to place the hits. He did it in a very tasteful way, because he knew what to play and what not to play and when to play and when to pull back.
"That’s actually very hard," Gerass said. "There are a lot of people who can play drums, but not a lot who can accentuate the songs, and I have always respected him for that."
Although Starr is the one Gerass portrays for a living, he has always been fascinated with drums.
"Every morning when I was a kid, my dad would play Frank Sinatra in the house and Count Basie and all those great big bands," said Gerass, who has played with Eddie Money, The Who vocalist Roger Daltrey and The Bay City Rollers. "I don’t know why, but my ear always turned toward the drums. The beat just caught my ear. It was the swing sound, and I found that sound in the early Beatles songs."
That’s one of the reasons why the Beatles’ sound captivated Gerass.
"Their music is timeless," he said. "I’ve loved the music since I was 10 years old. I got hooked on them when I first saw them on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1964, and I’ve bought all their albums that have been released, including ‘Introducing the Beatles’ on VeeJay Records and so on. They played great music and they were real intuitive in their songwriting."
Gerass’s favorite Beatles albums are "Abbey Road" and "The White Album," and he loves all the songs Starr sang.
"I love the way he did ‘Honey Don’t,’ and ‘With a Little Help From My Friends,’ of course, but I love his old rockers and we may do one of them in the show in Park City," Gerass said.
"The L.A. Cast of ‘Beatlemania’" will perform classic Beatles tunes at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. on Wednesday, Dec. 26, and Thursday, Dec. 27, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30 to $55 and are available at http://www.parkcityshows.com .
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