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Trans-Siberian Orchestra – It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like TSO Tour Season

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA – December 21, 2018 – photo by Nick Bergmann © 2018

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like TSO Tour Season

by Jay S. Jacobs

There is a nip in the air, it’s getting dark earlier, the leaves are falling from the trees. You know what that means – it’s almost time for the annual Trans-Siberian Orchestra winter tour. A spectacle of sights, sounds, twinkling lights and Christmas Spirit, TSO takes to the road annually – a pilgrimage for fans of theatrical rock and holiday cheer.

The too-soon death of TSO mastermind Paul O’Neill in 2017 has not slowed the train down, in fact the members of the band have committed themselves to the show with a stronger allegiance so that they can pay tribute to O’Neill’s vision.

A couple of weeks before they started practicing for their annual winter jaunt, Trans-Siberian Orchestra music director Al Pitrelli and drummer Jeff Plate took the time to get on the phone with us and many other journalists about the band’s legacy and the upcoming all new Christmas Eve and Other Stories Tour.

Bringing back Christmas Eve and Other Stories to do again, what was behind that decision? And what’s it going to be like to play it?

Jeff Plate: This is something that Paul had actually been talking about doing before we lost Paul a couple years ago. He realized that this story was probably the most significant one in our catalog. Christmas Eve and Other Stories was released in 1996. That is really the CD that put us on the map. It has sold the best. We toured that story for the first 12 years of our touring existence. This is what really made a mark with the fans all across the country. It has always been a fan favorite, and a band favorite, I can personally say it’s my favorite story that we’ve done.

But, like I said, Paul had talked about doing this before we lost him and, over the past couple years, things have been tough. Management and Paul and their family decided that this was a very good time to bring this show back out. The popularity of the show in the first place is one thing, but over the past several years, our production has just grown tremendously and improved tremendously. So, this time when you see Christmas Eve and Other Stories, it’s going to be a completely different show.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA – December 21, 2018 – photo by Nick Bergmann © 2018

As you mentioned, the last couple years has been adjusting to a new world order. There were several projects that were not completed, in various degrees of progress. What’s going on with some of these things that Paul left behind?

Al Pitrelli: I’ll grab this one. The first thing was everybody – starting with Paul’s wife and his daughter – a loss like that so unexpected, they had to catch their breath and just deal with that. All the projects that were being talked about, being looked at, being demoed up and worked towards, over the last six to eight months or so, the family has definitely started the machine back up and running. We’ve been spending a lot of time back down in Tampa in the studio. We’re looking at all these things and we’ve been recording a bunch of stuff, you know?

When you deal with a tragedy such as this, you’ve got to take care of the immediate business at hand. The creative side of it, everybody just feels like there’s a huge hole still in our hearts. His family said, “Okay, well you know what? Paul wanted this to live forever, it’s going to live forever. Let’s continue working on the ideas for that to exist and just move forward.”

I don’t have a date. I don’t know exactly when anything will be released. I’m just thrilled to death to be recording and to be working, and then just seeing like these news pieces come to life little by little.

How much of the stage and the lighting, the special effects are presented as different? What went into designing the new show for Christmas Eve and Other Stories?

Jeff Plate: I would say Christmas Eve and Other Stories, this show was probably in the works sometime last year as every one of these tours. The planning for these and the designs are started way in advance. I think the last time we did Christmas Eve and Other Stories was in 2011, and we had a massive production at that point. Now it certainly, it literally fills up the whole arena. We have a stage that expands the width of the arena, plus there’s production all the way out past the front of the house.

The main differences, I would say, are the video. The video content that we’ve been using the past several years is really just… it’s become so brilliant and fantastic; it just completely changes the dynamic of the show. Plus, the team that designs the… Bryan Hartley, Elliot Saltzman, you know, all the people in video; have really just stepped it up over the past couple years. Literally, two years ago when we were doing The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, the design that Bryan Hartley came out with was just fantastic. It took several steps beyond the year before. It’s improved in those increments ever since.

This year, like I said, with the improvement of everything – and plus the staff just really realizes we have to be as good as ever on this tour – everybody’s just really stepped up their game.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA – December 21, 2018 – photo by Nick Bergmann © 2018

It’s been eight years since Christmas Eve and Other Stories was brought out, I’m curious how the rehearsal process with the musicians and putting the music together is different from when you have a show that you’ve done the previous year? It seems like there’d be a changeover in some of the musicians and a good deal of re-learning going on.

Al Pitrelli: There hasn’t really been any change in musicians. We’re kind of creatures of habit. You get a chemistry like we have; you don’t really want to mess with it too much. Everybody who’s on that stage has been in the band for quite a while. They all know what’s expected of them. When the set lists went out a while back, everybody’s home diligently working on their parts to come in and represent the records exactly how they were.

The singers, they work with Danielle Sample and Paul’s family, his wife and his daughter, when it comes to the vocals. They’re not just singing songs; they’re bringing these characters to life. One of the things that Paul always said was, “If you do your job, the audience will hear the song and understand the story; but, if you really excel at your job, the audience will look at you as the character in the story.” That’s what’s paramount to these shows that we do.

We’re not just a rock band or a classical orchestra or a theatrical presentation of Paul’s work. We’re bringing these characters to life. Everybody’s been digging in for a while, doing their homework, learning the parts and examining the characters involved. We work a couple months individually and in small ensemble groups musically. Like Jeff had said earlier, the crew has been working on this with the family for probably the better part of a year and a half.

We’ll all get together in about three weeks or so with production rehearsals. That’s when it really comes to life. We’ll run the show about 40 or 50 times before the down beat of our first show on November 13th. Because what’s paramount, or was paramount to Paul, and is paramount to his family and everybody involved, is that every show is a perfect first show. We’re not going to kick the tires on just two or three shows and say, “Ah, that didn’t work.” We’re going to know from the jump exactly what it’s going to look like, how it’s going to be presented production wise and musically.

Again, at the center of it all is Paul’s characters and this beautifully written story that he came up with, like Jeff said, we recorded in 1996. These characters and this story, Jeff and I and everybody else in the organization, we’ve grown up with these. Twenty-five years ago, I was 32, this meant something different to me then than it does now. Now, as a 57 year old father of five, when “Ornament” or “This Christmas Day” or any of these songs is presented live, I have children that I don’t get to see that often, it resonates with me, just like it resonates with everybody in the audience.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA – December 21, 2018 – photo by Nick Bergmann © 2018

TSO for many fans is a holiday tradition and you guys are on the road during the holidays. What do you guys like personally about being able to experience the holiday spirit across America?

Jeff Plate: Al, you want to take that?

Al Pitrelli: That’s a really interesting question. This will be our 21st year touring so, to be completely honest with you, I don’t really know anything different any longer. To go out and, first of all, bring this to life night after night, year after year, it’s an honor and a privilege as, not only a musician, but just as a part of the story-telling team.

To go from El Paso to Seattle to Boston to Providence to Chicago, and every city in between, once you close the doors on the arena and the lights go down, you really don’t realize, or I don’t remember, necessarily, that we’re in a particular part of the country. I just know that we’re having like 18,000 of our closest friends get together to celebrate a genius’s work. To watch it night after night, matinee show after matinee show, year after year, to watch people’s expressions change in the audience and to celebrate these works; we get to have Christmas from November 13th until the last show which I think is December 30th, give or take.

We’ve made a lot of friends over the years. I think Jeff and I; I can speak for him in this regard, we’ve become friends with probably 30%, 40% of the people in these arenas. They’re what we essentially refer to as our “repeat offenders.” Some of them been coming since, I don’t know, Jeff, ’99 in Philly at The Tower? The first show we ever did right?

Jeff Plate: Since the very beginning.

Al Pitrelli: The very beginning. Sometimes you look out there and it is an extended family of sorts. Where the first four or five songs, you’re looking out acknowledging each other, from the audience to the stage and the stage to the audience. It is a very different way to spend the holidays, but it’s the most wonderful way I could have ever dreamed of doing it because it’s just Christmas twice a day for about six weeks. Then our respective families, they come out and they visit us. My wife and my daughters and my sons will visit me a couple times, and we have Christmas in a different city every year. Then when we get home on December 30th, New Year’s Eve then becomes our home or our family traditional Christmas, even though New Year’s Day becomes Christmas Day for us.

From the outside looking in, they’re like well, how can you do that? But us from looking out, it’s like, well, we don’t really know any different. We love this and this is what we do.

Jeff Plate: I’d like to add, too, like Al just said a couple times, that we don’t know any different. This is our 21st year of doing these tours and I think, for a lot of our fans, they don’t know any different either. It’s come to a point where a lot of these people, they can’t celebrate Christmas or get into the spirit until they see our show.

For us going up there and doing this, it’s like, sure, we’re going up and doing a show but it’s spectacular, first of all. It is the celebration. You really see the looks on the faces of these people, how it just affects them. Being away from home can be a drag at times but, at the same time, we have this extended family of about a million people a year. Probably over half of them come to see us every single year, if not more than once a year. The ones that are seeing us for the first time, we’ve got them. Once they come into that arena, we’re going to turn them into fans by the time they leave.

For us, it’s a huge responsibility. Not just to perform this show, but we also realize that a lot of these people really depend on us to kick this whole thing into gear in terms of the holiday spirit, so it’s very cool.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA – December 21, 2018 – photo by Nick Bergmann © 2018

As you noted, you recorded this in ’96, and you’ve been traveling since ’99. How do you continue to appeal to and attract audiences who’ve probably seen several incarnations of it, and now are probably bringing their own kids to see it?

Al Pitrelli: It’s like any great rock band over the years. There’s countless number of bands who came out in whatever year they came out in and, obviously, they did great touring business and great record sales; and then, 10 or 15 years will go by and then those fans or the people in the audience will be bringing their children, and then so on and so forth.

It all stems from the quality of the work and the quality of the songs that Paul O’Neill had written all those years ago; timeless stories, timeless lyrics and timeless characters. I remember when Jeff and I did the first show out in Philly, we look down and I looked at him and I had half a heart attack.

We didn’t really know who was going to be in the audience. We knew that we sold a couple million records from ’96 to ’99, but we did our first show in ’99. The lights went down in The Tower Theater in Philadelphia. When I looked down there was a really attractive older couple in their Sunday go-to-meeting clothes. Right next to them was this dude in a Slayer hoodie. We looked at each other and said, “This is either going to go really bad or really great.” Two hours later, we realized that this was the most amazing thing ever.

When you’re talking about no specific demographic, these kinds of people come see us. Everybody comes to see this thing, everybody buys these records, everybody has fallen in love with Paul O’Neill’s words, and his stories, and his songs, and his characters. Mainly, because everything in the story is relatable to somebody in the audience. If you insert your name or situation or circumstance into Paul’s work, the entire show becomes about you. I think between that and just the complete and utter adoration from a lot of the folks in the audience, it’s going to perpetuate from generation to generation. If you look at the age difference with the people on stage, it’s kind of the same thing as the people in the audience, if that answers your question.

That first tour in 1999, what do you remember the most about it? Did you realize right away that you were on to something?

Jeff Plate: Al touched on this a second ago. We walked out on that stage with more questions than answers, and nerves. I remember standing on the side of the stage with our bassist, Johnny Middleton. I had a knot in my stomach. Johnny was twitching from head to toe. There was dry ice rolling off the front of the stage into the lap of this elderly couple who, he was wearing a tuxedo and she had this beautiful red dress on, they were probably 65, 70 years old. Johnny and I looked at each other and said, “We are doomed.” We walked out there, and it was just magic.

Little did we know what we were doing. Honestly, up to that point we knew, musically, there was something really special going on. The first two CDs had sold really well. Christmas Eve and Other Stories was a huge hit. Plus, the why thing was, this is where we were going to make or break this thing. I know Paul was. He was probably as nervous as any of us, although he hid it well. Nonetheless, Al mentioned the diversity of that first audience, and it carried over into the second, and the third, and the fourth. Here we are, 21 years later, and it really is about the same percentage of age groups, musical genres, you name it; everybody’s in that audience.

Yeah, we were much younger. We were excited. We were nervous and, boy, it was a whole new ballgame when we walked on that age. But you know what? We pulled it off and we’re here to talk about it, so all is good.

Al Pitrelli: I just want to add to what Jeff had said. One of the first things that Paul taught us way back when, when we were recording is, he said, “Listen, just try to make great art, okay? Just try to make the best of this as what you can and everything, with a little bit of luck, will fall into place.” Now, those words meant a lot when he said it because we all looked at each other and said, “All right, fine, let’s just concentrate on doing something artistic and it’s never been done before.” But, boy, those words came true every time we hit the stage in that first down beat because with that, his integrity, his work ethic way back when, has carried us; 21 years of touring, 25 years of recording.

With his family at the helm and with everybody’s dedication to this, there’s really no end in sight.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA – December 21, 2018 – photo by Nick Bergmann © 2018

You guys have the second set with all the greatest hits, the fan-pleasers, things like that. For you guys, what is your fan favorite? What is the number that you want to play the most, that it’s not a TSO show for you if that number is not played?

Al Pitrelli: Oh gosh. For me, to be completely honest with you, it kind of changes night to night. All these songs have a different meaning to everybody on the stage and everybody in the audience. Even the men and women underneath and above the stage on our crew. If I had to pick one, I would say “Ornament” or “This Christmas Day.”

Again, going back to our previous conversation a couple minutes ago, two of my five children are in the Armed Forces, okay? I’m so proud of them. At the same time, they’re my little babies and I’m terrified every moment of every day because of what they do for a living. When our singers sing “Ornament,” which is a song about a father pleading for the safe return of his daughter. He hasn’t seen her; she ran away from home on Christmas Eve. It resonates just so deep in my heart and my soul because in the back of my mind, again, having five children, three of them are home safe and two of them are not.

Like I had said earlier in this interview, if you insert your name and situation into Paul’s work, it hits you much harder and cuts much deeper than anything else. Then by the time we get to “This Christmas Day,” when the father and daughter are kind of back together, very Paul O’Neill, everything has a happy ending, I get a lump in my throat because I know real soon that I’ll be with my kids and my family and all that.

So those two on a personal level for me. On a musical level, I don’t know, there’s so many great songs in the catalog that I enjoy all of it all the time.

Jeff Plate: You touched on something when you posed this question, [someone] who loved “Christmas Canon.” It’s interesting how everybody in the audience really has their own favorite song. It could be a ballad. It could be an instrumental. It could be whatever. A to Z, everything in between; but everybody seems to have a favorite song.

Myself, personally, Al touched on “Ornament” which is just a heavy, beautiful, emotional song.  The instrumentals are always fun to play because it’s just such really cool energy in that. But a lot of these songs have some lyrics that just really touch home, not for us personally, but you see it across the audience and how that really affects people.

I think the one song, without doubt, for me that I love to play and, honestly, we would not be here without it, is “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24.” Because that is the song that when we jump into that tune and behind the drum kit and start that drum pattern, the audience just lights up, the room lights up and it’s a standing ovation every time we play that song. That’s the one for me that really gets me going during the show.

Al Pitrelli: Let me just touch base. The “Christmas Canon,” one of the more comical moments in my 21 years of doing this is, no matter what, once or twice a tour, we’ll start the “Canon” and the girls will be out there. They’ll be shaking their hair and everybody’s just about ready for the lyrics to start. And some dude will grab his girlfriend and kneel down stage center in the audience and propose to her. Now, we’re playing, and you’ve got 17,000 people there that’s watching this guy propose so it’s like, she better say yes, otherwise it’s going to be a long six minutes.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA – December 21, 2018 – photo by Nick Bergmann © 2018

You obviously had worked with Paul for a long time, had a great respect for him as a composer, as a producer. Since his passing and as you guys have kind of had to step up and maybe handle more of the behind-the-scenes elements? Is there an aspect of Paul’s work that you’ve developed a greater respect for since his death?

Al Pitrelli: Nothing has really changed with our respective responsibilities and jobs. Paul and his family have been behind the scenes from the jump. I think, individually, speaking for Jeff and I, if anything, we just work that much harder at the jobs that we’ve had for 20 something years.

I’m trying to become a better musical director every year because Paul insisted that I become better every year. Jeff’s become a better drummer every year and a better band leader in his own way because that’s what Paul wanted from us. He would push us harder. Even in the studio, there would be stuff that he’d say, “I want you to record this part,” and I would say, “Dude, I cannot play this, this is just too crazy.” He goes, “Yes, you can. Exhale, do your thing, breathe, take a moment, and let’s work it up together.” To the point where I would be able to do stuff that I normally don’t think I would’ve ever been able to do without his tutelage and his guidance, and his unbelievable work ethic.

What I respect the most is the honesty in which he just approached the song. He just wanted to make great music. He didn’t really necessarily care what was popular on the radio, what was in fashion, out of fashion. He just knew that with the amount of instrumentation and voices he had available to him, he could write and create the most incredible stories. It was our job to see his dream fulfilled. That work ethic will stay with me for the rest of my life and, subsequently, with my children, and so on and so forth. Another way that he will live forever.

Jeff Plate: Al touched on it before. The cast members that we have, have been with us for quite a number of years. Both of our touring groups have been actually quite solid for the past 10 years. Everybody knew Paul and respected Paul and what was involved in this tour, but losing Paul also reminded us all just how fragile everything is. It really put everybody on their toes, myself included. We have to be just as good, if not better than ever, to make sure this thing keeps going in the right direction. It was a real wake-up call.

It was, obviously, heartbreaking like you can’t even imagine, but it really became aware to all of us that we needed to be as good as possible to keep this thing going. Because we’ve all had a big hand in the success of it. But, Paul’s attention to detail and… Where I miss Paul is in rehearsal, watching him run around, pointing at a light that might be the wrong color or out of focus, or somebody’s in the wrong position on stage. He had this insane energy to make the thing perfect. That carried over with all of us and a lot of us have learned that and carried this on without even thinking about it now.

It’s quite an amazing show. There are so many moving parts to it, but every one of them deserves attention and we’ve all been very good about that.

Al Pitrelli: The devil’s in the details, we always say.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA – December 21, 2018 – photo by Nick Bergmann © 2018

It’s great that you’re doing this Christmas Eve and Other Stories this year; do you see this as something that you’ll do again next year? Or you’ve not thought that far in advance? I mean 20 years is a long time in rock ‘n’ roll, what do see as the future of Trans-Siberian Orchestra? Another 20 years?

Al Pitrelli: For your first question, let us get through this tour before we worry about next year. I know that Paul’s family, our management team, production heads, they’re always looking a year or two down the road. Jeff had said earlier, Paul had five or ten years mapped out in his mind and on paper, where he wanted to see this thing go. Our task at hand right now is to put on the best tour ever. That’s quite an undertaking considering what we’ve done in the last 21 years, you know?

This show, for 1,000 reasons, is going to be an emotional roller coaster for all of us. Like Jeff had said earlier, Christmas Eve and Other Stories put us on the map. It’s the first thing we recorded as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It’s the first thing we ever toured in ’99. To come back out and play it and like Jeff said, not have Paul running around the arena pointing out the details that none of us really see, it’s going to be different without him being there physically. Although, spiritually and every other which way, he’s always with every one of us.

Again, his family, they’re just pointing in the right direction. That trajectory is continuing on 45 degrees angled up at all times. The future of Trans-Siberian Orchestra? I don’t know. I’m worried about tomorrow. Long-term, the family, management, all them, there’s no end in sight. Just I have no particular script in front of me, so I’m just going to follow what they tell me to do, plug in and play and have a great time.

Jeff Plate: I don’t have a whole lot to add to that, but when we came out with The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, this was the last of the stories that we needed to perform live. It was so well-received, and that’s why we did it I believe for four years, three or four years, whatever it was. But Christmas Eve and Other Stories has been already tested, it’s a proven favorite. It was hugely successful when we did it before. To Al’s point, we take this tour by tour now. I touched on it earlier, losing Paul just makes you realize how fragile all of this is. We’re very, very lucky to be able to do any of these tours, let alone this being the 21st. Let’s just hope everything goes well and the audience stays with us, and we’ll be fine.

A follow-up to an earlier question; the unfinished projects that may be in the works right now, are they Christmas oriented? Or are they part of the non-Christmas stuff that Paul had been doing?

Jeff Plate: Go ahead, Al.

Al Pitrelli: Both, actually. Paul was such an incredible writer, had such an incredible mind, that he would just write. We’ve been working on some different Christmas things over the past five or six months with his family down in the studio in Tampa. There were some unfinished rock operas that were non-holiday. Yet, there was enough of everything to keep all of us busy for a long, long time and never repeating ourselves, musically. That was one thing Paul was pretty adamant about, he never wanted to go back on yesterday’s music, fall back on yesterday’s accomplishments.

He always looked it as like a Super Bowl team; a team wins the Super Bowl in January and that’s awesome and they celebrate, and there’s great jubilation in the town and all that stuff, but as soon as that is over it’s back to the drawing board. How do we get better next year? How do we win another Super Bowl? Or, in our case, how do we do a better tour and a better record, and so on and so forth?

Paul was always way ahead of [things]… If we’re set up in Council Bluffs rehearsing, his mind was two years down the road on a record or on a tour. So, the short answer would’ve been yes, but the long answer is what I just gave you. There’s enough non-holiday and holiday material to last us a long time.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA – December 21, 2018 – photo by Nick Bergmann © 2018

In the past you’ve been joined by some guest artists. Are there any plans to bring things like that back in the future?

Al Pitrelli: Go ahead, Jeff.

Jeff Plate: Well, geez, right now I’m really not aware of it. I guess anything is possible down the road. That was something that Paul did. I mean, just what a present for all of us to be able to be on stage with some of these artists that we’ve had. Like Jon Anderson from Yes, I had the pleasure of playing with Roger Daltrey from The Who and Steven Tyler, Aerosmith, I mean those were just such magical moments; and I think, not just for us, but for the audience.

I don’t know if this is something that we will bring back. I guess this is probably more of a question for Paul’s family, how do they want to carry this thing forward in the future but, boy, it would be nice. Before, when we did have these artists, TSO was still kind of on the up. We were still growing. Now TSO is probably much more recognizable and some of these artists, who knows, maybe they’ll put in a call that they would like to be on stage with us. That would be great, let’s hope that happens.

Al Pitrelli: Just to throw this one in, the shows are amazing, everything that we do up there is awesome. But, like Jeff had just said, he had the privilege to work with some of the biggest names and greatest singers of all time. Personally, I just remember a couple years ago on New Year’s Eve, standing on stage with Paul Rodgers in Seattle and kind of looking over my shoulder. I said, “Never in a million years did I ever think I’d be touring for 21 years and be part of something so incredible, never did I think I’d be playing ‘Can’t Get Enough’ with Paul Rodgers.” I remember hearing that song in 1975 for the first time, which was like the soundtrack of my life, you know?

Paul has given us so many gifts over the years, musically, professionally, everything, but every so often there’s this little thing that pops up as you just go, “God, this is the most amazing thing ever.” And yes, like Jeff said, hopefully there will be more in the future but, right now, the special guest is Christmas Eve and Other Stories. This is what everybody is looking forward to hearing and seeing and watching unfurl.

You just touched on what I was about to ask you. But, the non-holiday albums, Beethoven’s Last Night, Night Castle, and Letters from the Labyrinth, do you think the band’s ever going to revisit any of that music and those stories?

Al Pitrelli: Yeah, touring for Beethoven and touring non-holiday stuff is always great. Touring in the springtime, going over to Europe, traveling the planet bringing Paul’s work to life, It’s amazing playing in this band and playing yearlong is even more amazing.

Whether or not we’ll pursue that in the future, again, the task at hand is to make the 2019 winter tour the biggest, best one ever. I don’t have enough capacity to even concern myself with anything down the road. I know that they’re great works. I know that the family wants to see them come to life on the stage again. Again, not to give you a short answer but I think one step ahead at a time. We have a huge task in front of us that we’re all looking forward to, so I can’t worry too much about the future just yet.

Jeff Plate: Another point with that is, if you’ve seen TSO, you understand how big this show is. Paul insisted on going out with the biggest show possible, the biggest show that management would let him go on the road with. The Christmas tour, as successful as it is right now, I don’t think Paul actually broke even for probably the first four, or five, or six years of touring; that’s how much money he invested into it.

The spring tours, these were a huge investment, too. Logistically, it is no small task to move this group around, and especially when we went over to Europe. This was amazing but think of this whole entourage with an army of people. The production that Paul insisted on using, traveling to Europe and the expense of that. We would love to do it and, honestly, there are some fans who think that the Beethoven tour is one of their favorite tours. I’m sure for me, personally, there was moments where I would agree.

But, as Al mentioned, the winter tour is really the first thing at hand right now, so the task is to carry this on and, hopefully, these other things fall into place.

Speaking of moving things around, the last time I spoke with Paul, he was interested in trying to make a Broadway musical; obviously, that’s, again, in the future. But, have you heard anything about whether they’re still trying to bring that dream to fruition?

Al Pitrelli: Yeah, absolutely. This is Al again. Yeah, all of these things are talked about. Paul would tell us all the time, there’s just not enough time to accomplish everything that needs to be accomplished. He would say that he wants this to live forever, long past all of us, albeit live or recording. When I say live, I mean in the arena setting, in the theater setting, on Broadway, whatever it is, on film; everything is talked about, everybody wants to move forward. His family is putting pen to paper to how to make this all happen. But, again, like they said, like a good prize fighter in the boxing ring, you got one step at a time, one punch at a time, one round at a time; you have to win each fight at hand and then worry about the next one.