BWW Interview: Steve Landes Talks RAIN Bringing The Beatles Back To NYC This Weekend
RAIN - A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES celebrates the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band! For the first time ever, RAIN will bring the historic album to life in its entirety for this psychedelic multimedia spectacular! This mind blowing performance takes you back in time with the legendary foursome delivering a note-for-note theatrical event that is the next best thing to seeing the Beatles. Experience the world's most iconic band live with a two hour family friendly show -- come celebrate 50 years of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band with RAIN - A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES. The show runs at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden May 3-6. Buy tickets here!
What can someone expect from attending this show?
They will feel as though they are seeing laid out in front of them! Of course, the band dresses like them and sounds like them, so it really feels like you're there. We have multimedia, large LED screens that surround the band onstage, so we use that as a living, moving backdrop. It feels like we're on the rooftop from the Let It Be movie, it feels like we're there at the Ed Sullivan theater when they performed February 9, 1964. And then other times, when it's surrealistic and impressionistic sort of stuff, we dress the stage in a psychedelic way. It is a very visual type of performance.
In recent years, you've played theaters from the Pantages in LA to Broadway's Neil Simon Theater in New York. However, 5,000 seats is much bigger than any either of those. What do you do to prepare yourself before you go onstage?
We always get excited when it's going to be a bigger theater. The thing is we're just happy to be back in New York City. We've played Broadway in 2010, but we've continuously updated our show since then. The show we're bringing to this theater is completely different than the show we did on Broadway. I'm excited for New Yorkers, maybe people who have seen the show before, to really see this whole new chapter of our show. There's just a lot of excitement playing for that many people. It's a lot of fun when the curtain goes up, and you see all the people in their Beatles t-shirts and they're singing along; you just know that these are all real Beatles fans who are passionate about the music just like we are. That's why we do what we do.
Do you feel pressure portraying such an incredibly iconic man in arguably the most influential bands of all time?
Yeah. I mean, these are huge shoes to fill and it's the sort of thing where, as iconic as John Lennon is, he's that larger than life figure who's always changing. You could ask a hundred different fans to describe him and you'd get a hundred different descriptions, and they'd all be equally correct in their own way. We try to hit on all the elements, with a lot of costume changes with different facets of atmospheric looks throughout their career; we go from the black suit and mop-top Beatles, to the maude '66 colorful era, to the Sgt. Pepper look, to the post-psychedelic hippie era with Let It Be... and I touch a little bit on the solo John Lennon. I'm so glad when I get to do a little bit of his look from his performance at Madison Square Garden that he gave with Yoko Ono, where he wore his army jacket and the dark round glasses. It's going especially hit home playing at The Theater at MSG where he performed in that costume at that arena.
Do you remember the first Beatles song you ever listened to? What would you say drew you to them?
The Beatles have literally always been apart of my life. My parents were Beatles fans from back in the day. My earliest memories are of Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, and the Beatles. They have just always been there. Just my mom, dad, sisters... and the Beatles!
How does someone become apart of a show like this?
For me, back in the 70's and 80's, there was a show called Beatlemania. It was on Broadway and then it started to tour, and it came to Philadelphia and it was just this revelation that there are people who get paid to pretend to be the Beatles! (Laughs.) I thought, "That's something that would be fun to do when I grow up!" Low and behold, when I was seventeen, the show had left Broadway but was still doing tours. I got my parents to drive me to New York and audition and I got in the show. It closed pretty soon after that, but it got my foot in the door and I'd met some of the other cast members. Years later, when RAIN was in need of a John Lennon, I was one of the people who got the call and I was ultimately the one they picked. I'm kind of living a dream. When you're a little kid, you wrap a bath towel around your neck and pretend it's a superhero cape and that you're flying through the air like Superman, but you never really think, "One day, I'm going to be Superman!" Well, that's what happened to me. I was a little kid and I used to pull the broom handle off the broom and pretend it was a microphone song and sing Beatles songs for my neighborhood kids... and here I am, being a Beatle. It's surreal.
Do you have any advice for someone who might see this show and have the urge to pick up a guitar for the first time in their life?
Best advice is to follow your heart. If you love music, play music. It's not about making money, it's not about getting rich, because that's almost never going to happen. Even if you do make money in show business, it comes and it goes. If you love being in theater, get into the theater. Do it wherever you can do it. Don't listen to the nay-sayers. Don't listen to the people who want to keep you from what you love to do. Just follow your heart and the rest will follow.
Be sure to catch Steve and the rest of the band at The Theater at MSG this weekend! Buy your tickets here!