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Next best to Beatles

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

It's the Fab Four all over again.

It's time to Get Back!

Forget all those overweight Elvis impersonators in white jumpsuits and big sunglasses, for just as the Beatles left the King in their dust, their impersonators are better too.

Get Back!, a re-creation of the Beatles by cast members from Broadway's Beatlemania!, will perform at a free concert from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Holiday Inn Surfside, 400 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach.

The performance is a scaled-down version of Beatlemania!, a play that chronicled the '60s and the rise and subsequent breakup up of the Beatles, but without the play's multimedia aspects. Three costume changes during the show complete the illusion of the Beatles from three eras: Ed Sullivan Show, Sgt. Pepper and Abby Road/Let It Be. The show travels chronologically down the long and winding road of the band's career.

"Beatle music is more popular than ever," Jack Patrilla (Paul) said in a recent phone interview. (He's got a point. A tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Beatle-led "British Invasion" is coming to Vinoy Park on July 2-4.)

Get Back! are: Patrilla, Peter McGann (John), Ritchi Ray (George) and Justin McNeill (Ringo). McNeill was with Beatlemania! when the first curtain went up in 1977, and stayed with the show through its nine-year run. McGann joined the Broadway company of Beatlemania! in 1979. Patrilla and Ray joined the musical when it went on tour. McNeill now has played Beatle Ringo longer than the real Ringo Starr. All are American-born.

"We had to go to Beatle school for our roles in Beatlemania!," Patrilla said. "We had to learn the Beatles' gestures, accents and view (their) videos.

"When the wig comes on, though," Patrilla said, "the persona flows right into you. The band goes into, as we say, the "magical transformation.' "

After Beatlemania!, McGann and Ray took their mop-top wigs to Las Vegas, where they performed in the hit "Legends in Concert." Patrilla toured with Rain, another Beatle band best known for its work in the ABC-TV movie Birth of the Beatles.

"I've been a Beatle-maniac since I was a kid," Patrilla said. "I saw them on Ed Sullivan and said to myself, "I have to be a musician.' That's pretty much the story of all of us (in Get Back!).

"I was left-handed, so I related to Paul," he added, "but I never had any thoughts of this."

Each member of Get Back! played with other bands before their involvement in Beatlemania!/Get Back!

Get Back! formed in Los Angeles in 1988. Comparable in authenticity to Beatlemania!, Get Back! uses thousands of dollars' worth of costumes, guitars and, oh yes, wigs. The band has toured the world, including shows in England, Brazil, Japan and Canada (where they played once with Ringo Starr).

Patrilla said he and his Get Back! mates haven't tired of Beatles tunes, and are grateful to the Beatles for the livelihood they're provided.

"Still," Patrilla said, "the pay would not be nearly enough if it wasn't a thing we love to do."

Spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets for seating. No coolers are allowed.

AT A GLANCE

Get Back! will perform 7-10 p.m. Saturday at the Holiday Inn Surfside, 400 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach. Free admission. Call Rose Bobier at 577-7131, ext. 316.

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