For Scot Arch, who plays John Lennon in the touring production of Beatlemania Now, it’s more than just the music.
While the Beatles’ illustrious songs are front and center, the show must be accurate in every way. The instruments must be authentic, the wardrobe has to evoke various incarnations of the band, and the physical appearance of the musicians must convince the audience they are watching John, Paul, George and Ringo.
“It’s very important to me that Paul plays left-handed,” says Arch, who brings Beatlemania Now to the Palace Theater in Greenburg on Saturday, September 19. “That’s just the way it was. The people need to look like the character they play. In doing that, they need to learn the mannerisms, the characteristics, and the accents so they are convincing.”
Beatlemania Now is regarded as one of the premier Beatles’ tribute bands. During past performances in Western Pennsylvania, the group has wowed audiences with spot-on covers of songs ranging from Love Me Do to Eleanor Rigby, and its ability to evoke the spirit of the Fab Four.
Arch, who resides in South Philadelphia, started his musical career playing in original and cover bands. He was recruited to play Lennon near the end of the Broadway run of Beatlemania, when the production was touring colleges and universities in the mid-1980s. Since then he’s been singing Help!, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, and other Lennon songs for multiple generations of fans.
“You have the people who were affected by the music when it came here to the States in ’64,” Arch says. “And they grew up and the music got passed down to their younger brothers and sisters, and even got passed up to their parents who really didn’t like the Beatles because they had long hair, but then all of a sudden a couple of years later their hair wasn’t so long because the music was really good.”
Eventually, the children of the original fans were introduced to the music, and it is now being passed down to grandchildren. But even as the generation that first thrilled to the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show are graying and retiring, the music, remarkably, seems not to have aged.
“They wrote hundreds of songs, and hundreds of great songs,” Arch says. “There is hardly a song of theirs that not everybody knows. They have more great songs than you can do in a single show.”
Because of the wealth of material, the musicians of Beatlemania Now — Arch, Graham Alexander as Paul McCartney, Christopher Colon as George Harrison, and Eric B. Smith as Ringo Starr — constantly reconfigure the playlist, rotating songs in and out. Arch notes these musicians were carefully selected and comprise what he feels is the best Beatles tribute band working today. Arch adds that because of all the multimedia elements the band can employ, the shows are much more than just concerts.
Arch and the band have high standards for the concerts, but ultimately success is determined by the reaction of the audience.
“When people say `I felt like I was really at a Beatles’ concert’ or `You sounded just like John,’ that’s what makes us really happy,” Arch says.
Beatlemania now plays the Palace Theater in Greensburg at 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 19. Also performing: Garry Moore as Little Richard, Lee Alverson as Jerry Lee Lewis, and Michael Brown as Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran. Tickets: $48.50/$43.50, can be purchased at the Palace Theater box office, 23 West Otterman St., Greensburg, from 9 am to 5 pm Monday-Friday, and 10 am to 2 pm on Saturdays. To charge by phone: (724) 836-8000; online, http://www.thepalacetheatre.org/schedule.html