Paul Curatolo’s got a couple of godfathers and a grandfather who carry the name Paul, so it’s not entirely the case that Curatolo, 32, is named after Paul McCartney, the Beatle he plays in Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles at the Merriam Theater this week. .
Not entirely. But … his father, Joey Curatolo, also played Paul for decades, dating back to 1978.
“I grew up surrounded by the Beatles,” Curatolo said. “I was always surrounded by the Beatles’ music. They’ve always been like distant uncles in my household.”
In 2013, Curatolo’s father recruited him for the job, which came as kind of a surprise, because Curatolo played drums as a child, not guitar, McCartney’s instrument.
“I never considered that I would be qualified to step into the role,” Curatolo said. He had to learn to play bass, and then upped his game by learning how to play it left-handed just as Sir Paul does.
“When it did click, it elevated the look for our show so much,” he said.
Curatolo, who calls Reno home, spends four or five months a year traveling from town to town on a tour bus with his fellow Beatles. Each Beatle gets a roomy bunk on the luxe bus, which includes a kitchen and two living rooms.
“We do everything today as a band,” Curatolo said. “We live together. We go out to eat together. We kind of operate like the four-headed monster that was the Beatles. We’re a band of brothers.”
Among the brothers is Steve Landes, originally from Lansdale, who has played John since 1998. Curatolo described Landes as a big Dr. Who fan who travels with his special Dr. Who mug and begins his day with Earl Grey tea.
The Rain bus had already made its way to Philadelphia in March 2020, but the surrogate Fab Four never got on stage due to the pandemic.
Curatolo can’t name a favorite Beatles tune — it depends on the day and the hour, he said. But this year’s show will focus on songs from the Abbey Road, which turned 50 in 2019.
“At a certain point, you age into the Beatles,” Curatolo said. “Their music always speaks to the counterculture, and I think it’ll do that for the next 100, maybe the next 200 years.”
Curatolo’s father, who now serves as a coach for the show, never tired of playing Paul, and Curatolo doesn’t believe he will either.
“You know you have to get out when you stop loving it and I don’t think I’m ever going to stop loving it.”
Oct. 29-31, Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St., Philadelphia. Masks and proof of vaccination required, recent negative PCR COVID-19 test for children under 12. For tickets, information, kimmelculturalcampus.org, 215-893-1999.
Beer, music, and ‘The Weir’
Beer and Irish music are on tap this weekend as Hedgerow Theatre winds up its season opener and its first production under the Rose Valley theater’s new executive artistic director, Marcie Bramucci. The extras are fitting considering the small rural Irish bar that is the setting for The Weir by Irish playwright Conor McPherson. The usual local gossip and banter takes a darker turn when a stranger from Dublin joins them. Back on stage, after a long absence, is Pete Pryor. The music precedes the Oct. 28 performance; the beers are available pre-show on Oct. 29 and the show closes Oct. 31 with a post-matinee question-and-answer session with the cast.
Through Oct. 31, Hedgerow Theatre, 64 Rose Valley Rd., Rose Valley. Masks required as well as proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test. For tickets and information, 610-565-4211 or hedgerowtheatre.org/the-weir.
‘Extreme Home Makeover’
If you’re the kind of person who can’t resist home makeover shows, then you’ll appreciate Makasha Copeland’s Extreme Home Makeover making its world preview at Theatre Exile in its first post-pandemic live performance. A Texas Tejano family lives in a small home in the Texas ranch lands. It’s a big state and there’s a big list of problems for the house and the family, which is suffering financially en route to the American dream. So, the Vega family does what any family would do in the same situation. They go all out to get themselves a spot on a reality television home makeover show. Funny. Thought-provoking. What is the cost for a miracle?
Motel Montana, Philadelphia playwright and choreographer Gunnar Montana’s Philadelphia Fringe Festival offering sold out 30 performances, so it’s being extended through Nov. 14 at the Latvian Society, where the audience is invited to grab a cocktail and enjoy the show, described as a colorful glittery explosion.
Montana’s work pays homage to his grandfather, a closeted gay man who managed motels in the 1950s.
“Motel Montana is designed to celebrate everything my grandfather couldn’t express in his life, and in turn, everything I am so unapologetically eager to express now,” explained Montana in a statement. “There’s something incredibly conflicting about celebrating the idea of my grandfather living out his truths, knowing I wouldn’t have been born had he done so.”
‘A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald’
The storm that caused so much flooding locally also washed out part of Freda Payne’s A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald at the Bucks County Playhouse. But she’s back for shows Oct. 29 to 31. Payne, the celebrated singer of the disco-era hit, Band of Gold, recently completed her memoirs titled … you guessed it, Band of Gold, with author Mark Bego. The book, to be released Nov. 2, includes an introduction by Mary Wilson of the Supremes.