Musician Michael Gagliano is living the dream, playing his hero John Lennon in The Beatles show, Let It Be, which is coming to Sheffield next week.
Michael said: “I don’t think I even see it as a job, to be honest. I’m playing my hero.
“Little boys watch Superman on the telly and go out and pretend they’re Superman all day.
“Ringo used to go and watch westerns as a kid and make a gun out of a branch. I kind of do that as a job.”
He added: “I was a Beatle for years before this, like most of us already in the tour. The producers went round the world and got the cream of the crop of all The Beatles tribute bands.”
Before joining Let It Be, Michael took the John Lennon role in The Beatlez.
He explained why Lennon is his favourite Beatle: “John for me is the spiritual leader of The Beatles, their soul. It was his band, he started it.”
Although he was too young to have lived through the years when The Beatles were performing, his love of the band goes back to being a small child listening to his mum’s record collection.
He said: “They’re the biggest band that‘s ever been. Every entertainment act in the world is really measured by them. We are the closest experience you can get to seeing The Beatles.
“It’s just a really great show to be in, full of the best music and the best musicians.”
There are two complete Beatles groups in the cast, who appear in different shows, he said.
“There’ll be four Beatles on one night and one on another. Sometimes we mix in with each other.”
Michael said that the show covers the band’s entire career from start to finish: “Everyone in the world already knows the story of The Beatles.
“It’s basically the story of their music career told through their records and concerts.”
The story starts at the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool.
Highlights include the famous 1963 Royal Variety Show performance where John told the rich people to rattle their jerwellery in time to the music, the band playing Shea Stadium in New York in 1965, the making of the film A Hard Day’s night, the Sergeant Pepper period, John Lennon’s peace protests, Abbey Road and their final live appearance at a rooftop concert on the Apple Studios building in London in 1969.
Michael said: “The audience go on a journey with us. You can see how the band developed and you can also see the cultural changes, the way that The Beatles changed the world.
“Rather than steering the ship, they were up in the crow’s nest, saying this is what we should do next. They made the rules up as they went along.”
He continued; “It’s a multi-media show and you get to see all the big hits. There’s more than 40 songs in the show.
“How many bands do you know that had that sort of catalogue? And we still get people saying, ‘I wish you could have played that one as well’.”
Michael said that Let It Be has been seen by nearly one million people around the world.
As a fan himself, he is very aware that the show is scrutinised keenly by fans.
He said: “People are mad about The Beatles and feel like they own them in their own way. They feel ‘it’s my band’ and they are lending them to the rest of the world.
“But even so, when they come they don’t think ‘what are you going to with my band. Let’s make sure they don’t ruin it’. They turn up wanting to believe you’re The Beatles.
“All you’ve got to do is meet them in the middle. If you’re amazing at your job, they get into the realism of what Let It Be does.
“People come away genuinely thinking they were watching The Beatles. That’s the highest accolade people can give you.”
The most nerve-wracking night so far was when thwe show was performed at the Liverpool Empire, where the audience included all sorts of people who worked with the band and even John Lennon’s sister.
“It was quite a freaky experience,” said Michael. “I was kind of glad when it was over. Liverpool is one of the places we were most excited to go to and it couldn’t have gone any better.
“I got to meet his sister afterwards and have a chat. It was like a childhood dream come true.”
She approved but thought he chewed gum too much!
So what are Michael’s favourite songs? “To listen to, every single one of them. They’re like children, you couldn’t possibly separate them. It just depends on the mood you’re in on the day. They cover every spectrum of human emotion.
“My favourite song to play is Strawberry Fields. The main reason is that I get to perform songs that John himself didn’t even perform live as him. I’ve played it more times than he has and he wrote it!”
Michael is very much looking forward to coming to Sheffield: “I love the place because it has an amazingly rich musical history itself. We will be in great company.”
Let It Be is at the Lyceum from next Monday to Saturday. Box office: at the Crucible, call 0114 249 6000 or go online to www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk