Bass, Guitar, Piano
Lenie and the band in New Zealand
WILSHIRE THEATRE Hollywood, Calif, 1982
Lenie Colacino plays RIGHT handed?
JOHN: Jim Riddle, PAUL: Lenie Colacino
Lenie sings "Michelle"
Lenie Colacino on stage in a Calgary BEATLEMANIA show
questions for Lenie:
1) How did you hear about BEATLEMANIA auditions?
I was aware of the show through the TV advertising
before I ever auditioned. My personal manager at the time gave me the number
to call in NYC.
2) Had you been impersonating Paul McCartney before you heard about Beatlemania?
No, not per se. I was in a band in PA that did mostly original music. I had always been a very large Beatle nut and had a talent for impersonation. (we can sure tell by your demo!*) But even as a child I had fantasized about being Paul McCartney.
3) What was your audition experience like? (eg: was the room full of Beatle impersonators, or was it just you and a music director?)
I scheduled my audition in enough time to go back to PA and have a laugh. I never thought I'd have a chance. But the room was full of Beatle hopefuls and my hopes rose as I saw that most people auditioning were not very talented.
The "Pauls" were required to play a song on piano, guitar (Yesterday) and bass. Most guys did not get past 8 bars or so. I had studied up on "Yesterday" noting that the recording employed a guitar tuned one step down. Being left-handed helped a bit in that my "look" would be enhanced over my right-handed competitors.
I remember singing "Got To Get You Into My Life" first. I figured if I was going to get the axe it might as well be loud. To my surprise I got through the whole song to a round of applause. I was encouraged. "Yesterday" was next and I got through that whole song, again to applause. I then played "The Long And Winding Road" on the piano all the way through.
Sandy Yaguda, the musical director, then asked if I knew any other Beatle songs so I sang "Penny Lane" and then "Get Back". I got the feeling that I was doing well. After the last song Sandy asked me to step outside with him. To my surprise, he offered me the job on the spot! I think there was a shortage of Pauls at the time. I was invited to that night's show and to be wined and dined by management.
Well, my head was spinning. I spent the rest of the day at my parent's home in Long Island and then went into the city to see the show. "Bunk 1" was playing that night. I was very impressed by the show and got to meet Joe, Mitch and the rest of the crew.
I was brought on stage after the crowd filed out and re-auditioned for the shows producer, Steve Leber. He asked me, after a brief reprise of TLAWR, if I could leave for LA in the morning. I was not ready for that!! I had just been married and I was in a pretty successful band at the time. I told him I'd have to have a little time to think it over. At any rate, I was now an employee of BEATLEMANIA®.
4) How old were you when you were accepted into the show?
All of 25 years old.
5) What was your first experience on stage as Paul in front of an audience like? Was it the first for your other band members as well? Tell us that moment right before you hit that first note on IWHYH!
It was pretty frightening! Although I had practiced long and hard (5 months) with my band, Bunk 5, my first show was with Bunk 2. It was odd in that my first show was with three other guys I had never played with before. It was also weird when we first started IWHYH. The curtain was down in front of us and we played the song with the scrim in front of us as well. No audience contact.
6) How many years were you with the show?
Officially I was hired in November of 1977 and my last show was in the spring of 1984.
7) You were the production's first "lefty" bass player, correct? Where there any other "Pauls" in the line-up that played left handed after you came along?
It's not true that I was the first left-handed
Paul! Mitch did a number of shows playing lefty. Although, I'm sure
about 99% of his shows were righty,
8) Did you play guitar or piano left-handed too?
The Piano can only be played in one direction! (we knew that! just testing you!) I did, however, play the guitar right-handed. The story goes that I first learned bass lefty, then abandoned it for the righty six-string and then picked up the lefty bass again when I got in the show.
9) Were there ever any accidents on stage say during costume changes? eg: trips and falls, etc.
Too many to mention, but the most memorable accident happened to Tony Kishman opening night in Washington, DC. 1979. During "Day Tripper" balloons kept floating out of the light rigging. The fake Beatles were to pop the balloons as they descended. At the end a giant (four foot diameter) balloon controlled by a tether, was to menace "Ringo". This night the tether was off its track and the balloon was nowhere near "Ringo" when it was time to pop it. Jimmy Pou had to swipe at it with the headstock of his guitar. The balloon popped but the tether wire got tangled in the headstock of the Ovation guitar Tony was to play for the next song, "Yesterday". When Tony turned around to get the guitar it was gone! It was now in pieces backstage! Our stage manager practically pushed Tony out to the platform to sing. I was watching this disaster unfold from the percussion room. Poor Tony was forced to ad-lib for a few moments and the decided to sing "Yesterday" without his guitar. He urged the orchestra to start with him so there would be some music behind his singing. It sounded like a good idea at the time with one small problem; the music called for the string players to go to the bridge after their first verse. Tony however sang the second verse while the strings were playing the bridge. It was a train wreck of monumental proportions!
10) If you had any, what was the most embarrassing moment on stage? Power outage? Flubbed lyrics? Sneezes? etc.
I once sang the French lyrics to "Michelle" in the first verse. The rest of the song was the same verse over and over again as I just could not find my place. I once started laughing uncontrollably in "Eleanor Rigby" due to a few sour notes played by the string section. We just started over from the top!
11) What was your favorite part of the show?
The "Flower Power" section. It was cool playing with the extra musicians and fleshing out those previously unplayable tunes.
12) What was your least favorite?
13) Who did you enjoy working with the most?
I enjoyed working with all of the guys! But my
favorite BEATLEMANIA band was Bob Miller, Joe Pecorino, Ralph Castelli,
14) Where did you enjoy performing the most? (What city, country, theatre, etc.)
Montreal. Quebec City. And the beautiful people
15) Did you play vintage instruments and use vintage equipment for the show?
Alas, no. All reissue guitars and the Vox amps were mid seventies vintage.
16) Okay, if you were trapped on a desert island with only one "musical" instrument, which would it be?
My favorite all-time instrument is my 1972 Gibson ES-345. A sweeter guitar I've never known. Honorable mention, my 1963 L/H Hofner artist bass.
17) We know that supposedly none of the original Beatles ever saw the show live, but some people from the Beatles camp (other than attorneys) did see it. Do you recall who?
Most prominent was George Martin who saw the London production in the late 70's.
18) Did you ever meet any of the Beatles?
19) Do you still perform with other alumni?
Yes. I still work with Joe Pecorino, Louis Colucci, Tom Teeley and David Leon from time to time.
20) All in all, looking back, how was the Beatlemania experience for you?
Pretty terrific! It changed the direction of my life and has a great influence even today. I had the opportunity to see the world, meet thousands of people, play the greatest pop music ever written and make many life-long friends. A pretty good deal.
(We here at BeatlemaniaAlumni.com graciously thanks
Mr. Colacino for his time and input on this website!!! You rock,