Dutch Apple hosts Return of the Beatles
By Jane Holahan, Entertainment Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
For members of The Return, the Beatles tribute band coming to Dutch Apple Dinner Theater next week, Griffin, Ga., is their Liverpool.
All four band members come from the small town about an hour south of Atlanta.
"We all went to high school together," says Michael Fulop, who plays George and helped found the group, which has had a few incarnations since it got started. Still, everyone is from Griffin.
But they put their Southern roots aside during their show, which highlights the early years of the Beatles with plenty of music and some amusing banter. The Return will take the stage at Dutch Apple on March 17 and 18.
"We do try to do the banter exactly as they would have, though I don't talk very much at all," says Fulop, who, after all, plays the quiet Beatle.
The group pays close attention to details, getting the haircuts, clothing and accents just right.
Their Paul is right-handed, but he trained himself to play the bass left-handed, just like Paul.
The group has done its research, especially watching the many videos of the Fab Four that have popped up on the Internet.
This show focuses on songs the Beatles performed live during their touring years.
"We play between 30 and 35 songs in the show because so many of their (early) songs were so short."
Ah, but what songs they were.
"We do the music that came out when Beatlemania got really crazy, focusing on 1964 in the first part of the show and 1965 to 1966, when they were still playing live and putting out 'Rubber Soul' and 'Revolver.'"
"Our audiences are singing along and clapping along," Fulop says. "Everyone has a really good time."
The show spans generations, but then so do the Beatles.
"We'll talk to people after the shows, and there will be somebody there with their kid and their kid's kid -- three generations. I can't think of any other group that attracts three generations."
And after all these years, fans still want to experience the Beatles, even if they are the Griffin Beatles and not the Liverpool Beatles.
"The coolest thing is we hear from people who saw the Beatles, whether it was in a concert or on 'The Ed Sullivan Show,' and they are thanking us for helping them relive their childhood and the memories they had at that time," Fulop says.
"And there are people who are our age or younger who tell us they didn't experience the Beatles, but they thank us for letting them live that out."
The Return actually began as The Roaches, a group that played original songs.
"We'd get together once a month at most, and we'd play our favorite Beatles songs," Fulop recalls. "We did it behind closed doors, just to play and have fun."
That was around 1995.
"After the first six months, a friend caught wind of what we were doing and asked us to play at a party, and then we got another job and another and the schedule started filling up."
Now they tour across the country and have toured in Europe as well.
"We mostly play weekends (in the United States), which is nice because we are all married and have kids," Fulop says. "There are nine or 10 kids between us."
And those kids?
"Oh yeah, they are all huge Beatles fans," Fulop says with a laugh.
And so are all four members of The Return, even after all these years of playing Beatles songs.
"People ask me all the time if I get tired of playing the same songs and the answer is honestly no," he says.
"It goes back to how great the music really is. I probably listen to their music more than anybody, and I've played the songs a million times and I never get sick of the music."
nTwo more concerts will be featured at Dutch Apple this year.
On Sept. 8 and 9, "Man in Black" will celebrate the life and music of Johnny Cash. The show features songs from Cash's 50-year career. Robert Shaw, who was in the Chicago cast of "Million Dollar Quartet," will play Cash.
"Branson on the Road," Oct. 20-22, will feature some fine country music with Branson regulars Debbie Horton (guitar and vocals), Donnie Wright (fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo and vocals) and Brian Capps (upright bass).
"The Return" and "Man in Black" are dinner shows; "Branson" includes a lunch show as well as dinner shows.
For more information, visit dutchapple.com or call 898-1900.n