By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A dead ringer for Ringo will take to the Morinville Community Cultural Centre stage Friday night along with three other musical actors playing the roles of the rest of the Fab Four. Beatlemaniacs is the second show in this year’s cultural centre concert series. The show takes place Oct. 26 at 8 p.m.
Cultural Centre Manager Laurie Stalker is excited to have the act on her stage. “The Beatlemaniacs do a fully-produced stage show with lights and video, and their sound really is next best to the real thing,” Stalker said, adding the venue will be set up with table seating so the audience is able to sit at a table and enjoy refreshments during the show. “I know it will be a great night out.”
Beatlemaniacs Cast member Burak Ceylan, who does double duty as group manager and Ringo, said Morinville should expect energy and realism in the upcoming performance. “People in attendance will be a part of what many Beatles fans always dreamed of, a true Beatles reunion experience that take them beyond just the catalog of The Beatles,” Ceylan said. “It is an entirely interactive show, where the audience becomes a part of the show. That energy constantly builds in our show, and eventually blows the roof off the place.”
While the Beatlemaniacs will perform a full show spanning The Beatles’ entire career, Ceylan said it is important to remember The Beatles only performed for 20 minutes at any particular show. Additionally, the band only toured for a handful of years. Not so for the band that recreates their look, sound and energy. “We have actually performed their songs more than The Beatles ever did, and so it’s not a stretch to say that we perform them with much more precision and perfection than the actual group.”
Ceylan believes The Beatles wrote the best songs in the world. For he and the rest of the cast there is the appreciation of having the luxury of perfecting them with the advantage of technology and repetition over the years. “We are performing many songs The Beatles never performed live, and we are performing solo material that was never ever performed live as The Beatles.”
But there is more than great sound separating Beatlemaniacs from other groups who perform the band’s catalogue. “Some of the better groups maintain a high standard of replicating the instruments, costumes and music of The Beatles, and those shows normally take you through a complete Beatles experience,” Ceylan said. “They usually start with the early Ed Sullivan classic mop-top Beatles look, and go through the career span of the group including Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road. The big difference with The Beatlemaniacs is no other group delivers the entire Beatles experience, going beyond The Beatles and into the solo careers of the Fab Four, and only The Beatlemaniacs perform this material as The Beatles.”
The result for the audience is a reunion dream concert where anything goes, one Ceylan feels requires some creativity and imagination on the part of the group and the audience because it is a creation of something that never happened rather than merely a re-creation of shows The Beatles did.
“Picture a concert where The Beatles actually get back together and not only play a potpourri of their own music, but also indulge in performing some of the great hits written by George Harrison or Paul McCartney’s Wings and, of course, John Lennon’s solo stuff cannot be left out,” Ceylan said. “Some groups may do one song from a member’s catalog, but none present it as an actual Beatles reunion concert. The entire second half of our show is a Beatles reunion.”
Beatlemaniacs trace their origins back to the 1990s when a few musicians were playing in a friend’s group as a variety act on board cruise ships. Ceylan said a Beatles act was in the works back then. Eventually the group split and Greg Weeks (George Harrison) and Ceylan created a new group, eventually turning the product into a full scale Beatles tribute show. “The bulk of our work was as a headliner on the cruise ships, then we branched out and started making appearances in … Vegas and Reno,” Ceylan recalls. “As the years went by, we grew into what we are today.”
Beatlemaniacs are today a cast of 11 members who have performed with the travelling group; some filling in as substitute cast members of well-known tribute acts, including Rain and 1964. The core Beatlemaniacs cast consists of David Deveaux as John Lennon, Jeremy Wright as McCartney, Greg Weeks as Harrison and Ceylan as Ringo Starr.
The four work together to recreate the euphoria of The Beatles without actually being The Beatles. “The phenom of Beatlemania followed the actual Beatles around,” Ceylan said. “They were The Beatles. We are not! So we have to create that euphoria; it doesn’t just happen automatically because we are reciting the songs. We do stay in character but we do not address one another as John, Paul, George or Ringo. We do not want to present the show as a documentary; this is – after all – a rock concert, and we want people to feel like they are attending a real rock concert.”
What is different in the performance philosophy is a desire not to take people back in time, but to treat it if it is happening now. “We prefer to present the show as if The Beatles were here today using modern sound and lights and all technology, like an old movie digitally re-mastered in HD,” Ceylan said. “We replicate the songs exactly note for note, every chord inversion and every vocal harmony exactly replicated. But we present the show more as if you were attending a Paul McCartney concert today. Then in Act II when we go into the Beatles reunion, we stretch out and use our imaginations to create a unique live experience that takes the show into a direction that no other Beatles act does today.”
Tickets for Beatlemaniacs are $25 per person with a $5 discount for students and seniors. They are available at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre box office and through tixonthesquare.ca.