As Epstein – The Man Who Made The Beatles, opens in London’s Leicester Square Theatre, we catch up with ex-Corrie star Andrew Lancel, who plays the gay, legendary music manager to find out what made the man tick.
Do you think that if Brian Epstein was around today that he would have been out and proud?
I think Brian was as out as he could be then. It was a different time of course. He would never have done anything to compromise the boys (The Beatles) then or now but in short – yes I think he would be. One of the great things about this play is that Brian is very much ‘around today’ – he’s very now, his footprint is very clear in the business.
Is it difficult playing a character like Brian Epstein who was so discreet and behind the scenes?
He’s by far the most complex and fascinating character I’ve played. Many layered but a man full of wit and charm. He was very famous and successful so there is a lot out there to draw from. Plus speaking to people who knew him – extremely difficult but hugely rewarding. The Liverpool run went down very well and hopefully London will latch on this play too and get to know this amazing chap better. He deserves it. Everybody who knew him says the same thing. He was full of charm. He shone.
What are your thoughts on Epstein’s untimely death? Do you think it was entirely accidental?
Tragic. He was 32 and had a big hand in changing the world. This play is not a tribute to a tortured soul. If you look at the pictures of him most have him smiling. He had to have wit, energy and life to look after those 4! – so yes for me – entirely accidental and again watching the play people will be able to decide.
Do you believe that Epstein struggled with his sexuality?
Did he have to work harder because of it?
He had to work harder because of many things – his sexuality, his religion, his background, his families success – but mainly because he couldn’t quite find where he should be. Until NEMS and the record store and then ultimately . The Beatles he was searching. I think he found himself in them.
Which one of the Beatles do you think he fancied the most?
I have theories and some inside knowledge but I’m declining my answer.. Ha ha.
What do you think Epstein would think of X Factor and BGT if he were around today?
Would The Beatles win X Factor? Would Cilla win Britain’s Got Talent? I think yes and anything that would boost his stable he would be behind. Brian did what he did without any of that, no text, twitter, Internet – it’s incomprehensible what The Beatles achieved in the time there were together and likewise what he did from a phone in an office.
What’s the most interesting fact that you’ve discovered about Epstein since undertaking this role?
Far and away that he was funny, charming and had a great sense of humour. It’s easy to assume because of what happened to him he was depressed and don’t get me wrong his life was a roller coaster and he had some dark corners (which we show). Will, Jen, Andrew and I work very hard on showing the life of this guy. It’s highs and lows.Another one would be that he held out for America until he felt it was right. That took some balls and clear genius.
As a celebrity yourself, can you understand the pressures that Epstein has felt?
Every job has pressure – celebrity or not. What The Beatles did was incomprehensible – their fame and their meteoric rise to it. Elvis never toured outside of the US. These guys were breaking the mould, the rules and the records daily. So I doubt anyone but Brian would really understand that kind of pressure. There’s no training for that. No guide book.
Playing him I’ve got to understand him a fair bit – but he was under immense pressure – I think Andrew (Sherlock) has captured that brilliantly.
Self medicating in Celeb Land seems to be such a common occurrence – and untimely deaths too, can you understand how someone can fall into the trap?
It’s tragic. My generation seem to be saying Gone To Soon far too often. But looking back it’s always been like that hasn’t it. The highs are high… As Brian ultimately knew. He was gone at 32!
Epstein: The Man Who Made The Beatles
Leicester Square Theatre
6 Leicester Place, London, Greater London WC2H 7BX
30 July – 6 September 2014
Preview Performances: 30 July – 2 August
Mon – Sat Evenings: 7.30pm I Thurs mats 3.00pm I Sat early shows 4.00pm
Ticket Prices: £30-£42.50
HOW TO BOOK:
Book online at www.leicestersquaretheatre.com |telephone 08448 733433 or in person at Leicester Square Theatre box office (Booking fees may apply)
Writing co-commissioned by Homotopia.
Supported by Arts Council England, Orange Amplification, Liverpool Vision and Liverpool Echo.
Production partners: The Beatles Story (Liverpool), Hard Day’s Night Hotel (Liverpool), Hard Rock Cafe (London), The Beatles Coffee Shop/Beatles Walks (London), Gieves & Hawkes (London).
The official hotel partner is Radisson Blu Edwardian, London.
The official production charity partner is CALM – www.thecalmzone.net.
Running Time 2hrs approx
Suitable for age 14+
The editor and chief of THEGAYUK. All in a previous life wrote and produced songs on multi-platinum records.