Steve Landes Chats About Landing The Role Of John Lennon In The Broadway Show ‘Rain’

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“Once you go on stage and you know you’ve filled a place that size, it’s magic. Just walls of people. Half the fun was being involved in this gigantic event ourselves,” – Paul McCartney.

While the Boch Center Wang Theatre may be a far cry from Shea Stadium, you can almost envision the legendary Beatles’ performance in New York when Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles comes to Boston. On February 17 and 18, the tribute concert will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

We caught up recently with Steve Landes, who plays the piano, rhythm guitar and harmonica (and did we mention he is the also the vocals of John Lennon?) for the performance. The self-taught guitarist has been a life-long Beatles fan, who, by the age of 13, fronted a Top 40 cover band in his native Philadelphia. At 17, he toured the world with Beatlemania and joined Rain as John Lennon in 1998.

RAIN: A Tribute to the BeatlesPhoto Credit: RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles

Were you a big Beatles fan growing up?

Oh yeah. I listened to The Beatles all my life. My parents and two older sisters were big Beatles fans so when I came along, I discovered the 45s and albums up in the attic. It was like I had this Beatle discovery (laughs).

When did you know you wanted to make this a career?

Probably when I was around 10 or 11 when the Beatlemania show was on. I thought it would be amazing to do that. I was in local bands and happened to meet someone affiliated with the show that got my foot in the door where I met the guys to do this.

RAIN: A Tribute to the BeatlesPhoto Credit: RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles

You have pretty big shoes to fill as John Lennon. Was it intimidating to take on this role?

Very. It’s the sort of thing that as iconic as John Lennon was and is, there’s so many facets to him. He was the leader of the band; there was a hippieish psychedelic Alice in Wonderland type of John Lennon with his lyrics. Then there was the John Lennon with a beard, who was all about peace and love, bringing people together type of guy. You could ask 100 John Lennon fans to describe him and you would get 100 different descriptions. It’s difficult to put John Lennon on the stage. I try to portray the John Lennon I envisioned him and hope that resonates with the fans.

Tell us about the show and what a first-timer can expect.

The show is just like The Beatles. It’s 100 percent performed live and there is a multimedia experience that makes you feel like you’re at Shea Stadium for their performance. It’s a lot of fun and family friendly so it’s great for all ages.

RAIN: A Tribute to the BeatlesPhoto Credit: RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles

What is your favorite song to perform?

That’s a tough one. Every song they did, whether it was hits or more obscure stuff, was incredible. It’s tough to single one song out. When I am performing, I focus on the audience’s reaction. I like the songs that get the audience going like “Twist and Shout” or “Hey Jude.”

Favorite Beatles album?

Please Please Me and all of the early stuff. Their youthful vibrancy speaks to me. I love that.

RAIN: A Tribute to the BeatlesPhoto Credit: RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles

What’s up next for you?

We are gearing up for a 12-week tour that is going to take us all over North America. There is a lot of training that goes into place before the tour. We do basically eight shows a week 12 weeks in a row. You have to be at the top of your game. We’re rehearsing and exercising so we can be the best we can be onstage.

What are you most looking forward to when you come to Boston next month?

The food. Boston has great food. I would love to go to the harbor, but don’t know what the weather is going be like. It sure is beautiful there. I also love Italian food and the North End is great. It has been a while since we have been to Boston, so I am really looking forward to visiting.

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