Beatles Tribute Band Talks Getting Into Character

The first six letters in “Beat Leukemia” are “Beatle,” so it’s only fitting that The Beatles – or at least, a Beatles tribute band – perform at the Beat Leukemia Ball each year. Leukemia Texas held its 14th ball in May, supporting leukemia research and financial aid for patients.
It’s a fun yet also emotional night, not just for the participants, but for the The Fab Four themselves. Let’s get to know the men behind the microphones.

« Ron McNeil as John Lennon
14 years performing at the Beat Leukemia Ball
How do you prepare for each performance? Preparing to transform into The Beatles is different for each cast member, but I think we all have some ritual of listening to The Beatles' music and looking at pictures of the band to get in the right frame of mind.

In what ways are you similar to John Lennon? I don’t think I’m too similar to John Lennon other than being a musician who sings and plays the same instruments. I do have the same passion for the music that Lennon and The Beatles created, and I have the same wish for the world to live peacefully.

Favorite Beatles song? Can't really pick one, but if you're gonna hold my feet to the fire, “And Your Bird Can Sing.”

Favorite part of the Beat Leukemia Ball? My favorite part of the Beat Leukemia Ball is seeing everyone out on the dance floor coming together through The Beatles’ music to help “take a sad song and make it better.”

« Joe Bologna as Ringo Starr
First year at the Beat Leukemia Ball
How do you prepare for each performance? We do have The Beatles' music playing backstage, and we sing along as we make-up and mentally run through our checklist in our heads while that’s going on. Once the wig is on, we shake our heads and become our characters.

In what ways are you similar to Ringo Starr? I got hired by my first Beatle tribute band because I sang as good – or as bad – as Ringo, depending on one's point of view. But I guess I also have a goofy sense of humor like him too.

Favorite Beatles song? Varies all the time, but my favorite to perform is “A Day in the Life.”

« Gavin Pring as George Harrison
8 years performing at the Beat Leukemia Ball
How do you prepare for each performance? I wear brown contact lenses to get into the role of Harrison. As soon as those contacts go in, I’m ready.

In what ways are you similar to George Harrison? I was born in Liverpool, England. I hung out in the same bars just years later when I was a young adult. I have the exact same dimensions as him – 5 feet and 10 inches tall, 30-inch waist, 36-inch chest – and that's why Cirque du Soleil used me for its George Harrison motion capture for the LOVE show.

Favorite Beatles song? “Here Comes the Sun”

Favorite part of the Beat Leukemia Ball? I personally love it when the guests hit the stage and tell their stories of how Beat Leukemia has helped in their daily struggles to beat this indiscriminate, unrelenting adversary, how they have succeeded against the odds. Very emotional, even from behind the stage.

« Ardy Sarraf as Paul McCartney
14 years performing at the Beat Leukemia Ball
How do you prepare for each performance? Before each and every show, it’s very important for me to warm up vocally.

In what ways are you similar to Paul McCartney? Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a Beatle. My voice naturally has a very similar timbre and tone to Paul's, and to me that's very important. What we've always done in The Fab Four is pay attention to detail, learning the mannerisms and singing as close to record accurate as possible.

Favorite Beatles song? “All You Need is Love”

Favorite part of the Beat Leukemia Ball? It's always fun each year to see new people enjoying Beatles music played live and dancing the night away.