Decades of music written by Paul McCartney, both in the Beatles years and during his solo career, are the inspiration for a show this Friday at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts.
“Stroll Down Penny Lane” is a multimedia tribute that incorporates short films with live music. Tickets are available through the Grand Theatre box office, 715 Central Ave., and online at www.atthegrand.org.
Q&A with Joe Anastasi of ‘Stroll Down Penny Lane’
Tracy Press — I suspect that a lot of people think they know what a tribute band show is like. What makes this show different?
Joe Anastasi (lead vocals) — “Stroll Down Penny Lane” is a multimedia-theatrical show that explores the life of Paul McCartney — through his music. Oftentimes his songs are autobiographical. And to get the storytelling element across, we present 25 films, which display above the stage as we perform the songs live. The film editors and cinematographers for the films are all out of California; the motion graphics specialist we contracted with is out of Kentucky; and for five of the films, we utilized an animator in Barcelona, Spain.
Sometimes the films tell of the origin of a particular song; or sometimes what it is, in the song itself, that moves us so. Some of the films touch on the collaboration between John and Paul, and which contributed to the distinctive makeup of a song. Other films treat with the despair Paul was experiencing when he wrote a particular song.
In researching and writing the screenplays for these films, when I learned something that was surprising to me, or when I was struck by something profound, I found a way to thread the nugget into the storytelling in the films. Everybody loves storytelling — it is a fundamental underpinning of our human nature. And when you combine that with this music, the audience is drawn right into the show.
TP — A simple question: Why McCartney?
JA — Paul McCartney’s songwriting is very unique, and transcends multiple genres. But, the music we present in this show goes all the way back to Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally.” And then, while with the Beatles, Paul and John wrote 200 or so songs together. But remember, Paul has written another 300 or so songs; some with Wings, and others on his own. And Paul McCartney’s songwriting is very unique; it transcends multiple genres. So that in and of itself is a remarkable trove to mine.
Also, Paul McCartney is one of the greatest vocalists we’ve ever experienced — and exploring that is well worth visiting.
TP — Who should go to this show?
JA — If you love the Beatles, go to this show! One thing is certain; every single person in the audience will discover something they hadn’t known before. If you love Paul, that is another reason to go to this show!
But there is a third aspect to this show. And that is this. Our show somehow inextricably taps into the nostalgic personal experiences of everyone who attends. People weep oftentimes at their memories, sometimes triggered by a song, or a film in the show. And this is not in sadness; it is an expression of an individual’s joy. And I am always impressed with the personal experiences our audiences share with us after watching our show.
Finally, the band is simply brilliant. The vocal harmonies are incredibly authentic — and the key to it all in this music is represented by these vocal harmonies — they are what make this music so distinctly unique and spectacular. The musicians include Mike Sugar on bass, electric cello (yes!), melodica, and recorder; Matt Twain on keyboards and electric bagpipes (yes!); Mark Abbott on percussion and bass harp (yes!); and ‘Winter’ (yes!) on lead guitar.
Come see the show, you will be very entertained.