Steve as John Lennon

Cast Member:


Guitar, Piano, Bass

Steve Landes on stage in a Calgary BEATLEMANIA show

with Lenie Colacino, Bob Miller, and Ralph Castelli.

Steve as himself

..and with David Brighton
during a TWIST & SHOUT show

Q&A with Steve Landes:

* When did you first audition for BEATLEMANIA?
* How did you find out about auditioning?

My experience with getting into the show was a bit different than everyone else, I imagine.
I came into it at the tail end, when everyone else was getting out of it, or at least starting to do other things. Which is why I got in, actually. I had been a big fan of "Beatlemania" when it came out, saw it whenever it came to town (Philadelphia, where I'm from). 
I thought that must be a really cool thing to do, get to pretend to be a Beatle (I was a Beatle fan from birth). I was too young to even think about actually auditioning, though. I was still a pre-teen when the show first started on Broadway. Anyway, as I got older, I started to play in different bands and stuff around town, and through a mutual friend got to know Bob Wiliford, also from PA.
One day, Bob got a call from Leslie Fradkin, who was in charge of casting the next production of "Beatlemania", to play in Long Island, NY. Les asked Bob if he'd do it, but Bob had just left the band "Rain", and wanted some time off the road. Les told him he was having trouble finding someone, since most everyone was either already booked with other productions of the show, or had found work outside of
"Beatlemania". Bob told Les that he knew of a kid who might be able to fit the bill. I then got a call from Les, who asked me to come up to NY to audition for him and Gigi Hageman, who was going to be Musical Director. My parents drove me up, we went through some songs, and needless to say, I got the part.

* What went through your mind (and heart) when you were
"accepted"!  (from a fan's point of view, like mine, I would've jumped higher than the Empire State Bldg with all the excitement!)

Being such a huge fan of the Beatles and "Beatlemania", I was ecstatic. My whole family was. I think the only thing that would have made me happier would have been to be asked to join the real Beatles.

* How long did you have to go to "BEATLE SCHOOL"?

Because I joined so quickly, and late in the show's run, I didn't really go through the "Beatle School" that the other guys did. I'd always taught myself the John parts growing up listening to the records, picking out parts, so then when I got into the show what I didn't already know I learned along the way, first from Leslie, then later on picking up things here and there from Tom Teeley, Jim Riddle, BobWiliford, Andy Dorfman, etc.

* What was your favorite part of the show to do?  (And don't say "my days off!")

I really loved everything about doing the show. It was
the first time I ever got to wear those Beatle
costumes, and the first time I was exposed to the
guitars. To think we had vintage Rickenbackers,
Epiphones, Gibsons, etc., at hand whenever we wanted!
This was in the days before re-issues, so it was all
the real stuff. The guitars weren't always perfectly
authentic, in fact looking back they were sometimes
pretty far off the mark -- 335's substituting for
Casino's, etc. -- but we got to play some really nice
instruments. And we'd usually tour with doubles of
everything, especially the Mellotrons, 'cause they'd
always be breaking down. I was rooming with Jim Riddle
for a whole summer once, and we 'liberated' a mid-60's
J160E to keep in our room, for the whole season, that
was great! I got to keep all my costumes from the
show. In fact, the denim jacket I sometimes wear with
"Rain" is my "Beatlemania" one.
I had a 70's Rickenbacker 320 I used in the show for
quite a while, 'till it was stolen. And I still have
the 70's Ludwig set we used in Long Island.
As far as parts of the show I liked doing, it's always
been, and still is, the early years. 1963 is my
favorite year in the Beatles history, and I love
singing those era songs.

* Who did you MOST enjoy working with, and were there ever
moments where you were on stage and were in awe at any of your bandmates abilities?

I can't think of anyone I didn't really like working
with, all the guys were (and continue to be) really
nice.  I was always impressed with the various Pauls'
vocal stamina. The show was really 'Paul' heavy, there
really wasn't a lot for us 'John's to do, so I was amazed that those Paul guys could sing so high every night. And we had such incredible guitar players, too bad they didn't really get too play much, either!

*You made a joke about alumni Bob Miller as Jerry Seinfeld.  Care to explain?

As for Bob Miller, I don't know, he just looks like
Jerry Seinfeld in a Beatle wig to me! He was such a
great player, though, one of the best. Great drummer,

* What was your favorite city to play?
* Did you play all over the world?

Though since the show ended, I've played all over the world,
I really only got to do the show for a very short time, about 4 years total. I most liked the longer stays rather than the one-nighters, when we could get out and get to see the city. Remember, I was only 17 when I started the show, and had never been outside my
home state.  So "Beatlemania" and everything that went along with it was a whole new world for me.

*You played in the very last official BEATLEMANIA show. Did you know it was the last show EVER when you were doing it?  *How many encores did you guys do? 

No, I didn't know it wasn't going to be the last show.
I mean we knew there were the lawsuits and all that,
but that had been going for years, so we didn't really
think it was going to end when it did.
In fact, there was almost going to be another
"Beatlemania" production in New Jersey, I think. It
was either the same year as the last show, 1985, or
the next year. But I got a call from the guy heading
up operations of the show at the time, Bill Franzblau,
who said that Lenie was going to do it, it was Lenie's
call who the John should be, and asked for me. So I
told Bill I was available. A short time later (a few
days, I think, maybe as much as a couple weeks) I got
the call that it was cancelled -- the lawsuit came
down and the show was over.
Anyway, back to the last show. I don't remember much
about it, like I said, I'll get you a copy of the
program. But I kinda remember that on that last show,
we had to stop the show for a couple minutes, cause in
the middle of the first act Bob Miller's Vox amp blew
up. So we dropped curtain, they sat a Fender amp
behind the Vox, Bob plugged in, and we continued the
show. (The Vox amps we had were the American ones, not
the best). I kinda remember that as being the very
last show, but it just may have been one night at that
venue. I think we played two or three nights there.
Encore wise, I think we were doing either "Twist And
Shout", or "A Hard Day's Night" at that point.
"Taxman" had also been added to the show, as well, had
been that way for some time, before I started doing
the show, I think.
I've noticed I say "I think" alot when answering your
questions. I just know that the memory can play tricks
on you, the things you think are the absolute way they
happened may not always be, so I like to put that bit
of disclaimer in here!

*Where were you when we lost John Lennon?

On the question of John's murder; it happened years before I joined the show, so luckily I didn't have to be in the horrible, awkward position that some of the other guys did.

* We should also mention things you do today, like your part of  RAIN and an actor in your own right, right?

After the show closed, I got into other Beatle bands,
and have been doing that ever since, especially the last four years with "Rain".   I've also been writing my own music, and acting.  I had small parts in films like "Mars Attacks!", etc., and even did a stageplay with Beatlemania Alumni, Lenie Colacino!

You can read about what else I've done on my website,  Also, I would really like to hear from people who saw me do the "Beatlemania" show.

Thanks for asking about the RAIN show, "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!".
We've recently opened at the ELDORADO SHOWROOM in RENO, Nevada, and will be there on an extended run until August of 2003. (click here for images of the show)

Well, I think I've run off at the mouth for long
enough! Any more questions, let me know,

Steve Landes