The “Imagine” band is more concerned with getting the Fab Four’s sound right than looking the part. Photos courtesy of Joe Boucher

For his 50th birthday this year, Joe Boucher’s wife took him to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. This past summer, on the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, he went to the music festival site in upstate New York, stood where the stage had been and imagined what it was like.

He’s walked in the crosswalk at Abbey Road and stood on the stage at the Cavern Club, where the Beatles started out in Liverpool. Rock ‘n’ roll is part of his DNA, culturally and otherwise. “I am the youngest of five kids, and I grew up with a good classic-rock pedigree,” said Boucher, concert manager for the Portland Symphony Orchestra and an ardent Beatles fan.

A musician who spent years on the road in rock bands, Boucher is writing the second act of his musical story by creating orchestral rock shows and shares his passion for the Beatles with “Imagine: The Beatles Solo Years,” at 7 p.m. Friday at the Sanford Performing Arts Center, an 850-seat theater that opened a year ago in Sanford High School. It’s an orchestral pops performance with a full rock band and the 50-member Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Robert Lehmann. The orchestra is affiliated with the University of Southern Maine School of Music.

Joe Boucher has written three orchestral rock shows.

Boucher created the show with his longtime collaborator and arranger Chistopher Eastburn. “Imagine” is their third orchestral rock show. Along with Lehmann, they also created “Piano Men: The Music of Elton and Billy” and “Classic Rock,” which have toured nationally. Boucher also joined the Rose Quintet to perform Elvis Costello’s “The Juliet Letters.”

This show imagines what might have been had the Beatles stayed together. With two exceptions, the show includes band members’ solo-career hits, performed as they might have sounded had the Beatles stayed together or reformed. “They remained so prolific through the ’70s as solo artists,” Boucher said. “Until John died, the big question was what if – and the big question remains what if – what would they have sounded like if they continued as a band and if George Martins was still in the mix producing them?”

Over two acts, the show includes Paul McCartney’s “Band on the Run,” George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord,” Ringo Starr’s “Photograph” and John Lennon’s “Imagine,” among others.

“Imagine” opens with “The End,” the last song from the album “Abbey Road,” which came out of the last studio sessions in which all four Beatles participated. The show closes with “Real Love,” an unfinished Lennon song the surviving Beatles completed after his death in December 1980. It was included as a new release as part of a Beatles anthology in 1995.

Boucher said it’s not hard to imagine what might have been. Lennon and McCartney never appeared on each other’s solo records, but otherwise band members remained collaborators in studio and occasionally on stage – and still do. This fall, McCartney and Starr, the two surviving Beatles since Harrison’s death in November 2001, reunited for a cover of Lennon’s “Grow Old With Me,” which he wrote in the year before he died.

Boucher credits Eastburn for making these shows happen. “I select the songs and Chris writes all the string parts, which is the foundation of what we are doing. He’s a classically trained composer and arranger,” Boucher said. “I’m just a rock musician, nothing more, nothing less. It starts out with a mix tape that I give to Chris, and then he goes to work for the next year.”

They’ve performed chamber versions of the show in Arundel and Harrison and a full-orchestra show in Scranton, Pennsylvania. They plan to film Friday’s concert.

Boucher plays many instruments and is a pianist at heart. For “Imagine,” he gets to play about half the show on his 1967 Hofner bass, similar in style to one McCartney plays. But the band – Gary Backstrom, Nick Pires, Matt Kennedy, Johnny Martinez and Steve Hodgkin, in addition to Boucher and Eastburn – isn’t trying to look like the Beatles.

“There are so many good tribute shows to the Beatles,” Boucher said. “We don’t do the look-alike thing, but we are pretty faithful to the music.”

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