Classic Mini Cooper courtesy of the Classic Car Club
Age and hometown: "Late 40s." Brooklyn, NY
Current role: Charming three generations of Beatles fans in a Broadway debut performance as Paul McCartney in Rain.
No Place Like Home: For those who find the notion of destiny doubtful, the story of musician Joey Curatolo might just change minds. When his Beatles tribute show Rain opened at the Neil Simon Theatre on 52nd Street last fall, it was around the corner from where Curatolo stumbled on his career as a Paul McCartney doppelganger 30 years earlier. “I was working as a messenger in the city when I was 16, and I happened to go by SIR studios on 54th Street,” Curatolo remembers. “I heard 'Magical Mystery Tour' being played live, so I went in and someone said ‘Are you here for McCartney?’“I threw down the packages and said ‘Sure,’ and played for them. Within six weeks I was at the Pantages Theater in L.A. with the show Beatlemania.”
Playing Paul: After touring with Beatlemania, Curatolo joined Rain—“the first ever tribute band”—and set his sights on creating a pitch-perfect Paul. “I didn’t want to play him, I wanted to channel him,” the actor says. “It came pretty naturally to my voice, and then it became a study of his every little nuance.” After 30 years, is there anything he hasn’t quite nailed? “I don’t play left-handed,” Curatolo admits with a laugh. “I did for a while, but it messed with the integrity of the music, so I reverted.” When he gets complaints from the purists, Curatolo has a well-practiced deflection to hand. “Well, I sing left-handed,” he jokes.
The Beatle Business: He plays drums, guitar, piano and bass, but Curatolo is more than a musician: He is also a producer of Rain, and helped build the multimedia stage show. “We’re the only show besides Cirque du Soleil that has rights to the Beatles music,” Curatolo explains, which means that while none of the surviving members of the Fab Four have seen it, they have signed off on it. “We’re Beatles fans first and foremost,” Curatolo says of the Rain cast, together for 20 years now. “That’s why we still love what we do.” It’s also, he says, why Broadway audiences are connecting with the show. “ABBA did it with Mamma Mia! and Jersey Boys did it with the Four Seasons,” Curatolo reasons, “but we let history speak for itself, and people enjoy that." With a laugh, he adds, "The Beatles also had more hits than we could possibly put in one show, and you know what they say: The band with the most hits wins!”