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Cirque Du Soleil
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Jim Pearce
“Why I Haven't Got You”
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Time Line
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Anoushka Shankar

Amos Lee
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Julius Curcio
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"Come Alive"
Changing Into Me
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Feature [Issue #16]
Lennon The Musical: Reinventing The Beatle
By Ken Micallef
Lennon: The Musical (Broadway Show )

Tracing John Lennon’s rough and tumble days in Liverpool to his final years at Manhattan’s Dakota, Lennon: The Musical is the Yoko Ono approved production designed to cash in on the public’s current fascination with pop stars and Broadway musicals. Performed at New York’s Broadhurst Theater, Lennon’s nine member cast trades off on some of the Scouser’s best songs, and some of his worst.

A beautiful Asian woman plays Yoko, while a variety of characters play John (a large black man plays Paul McCartney) though the scarily Lennonesque Will Chase handles most of the Lennon recitation duties (“in his own words”).

Songs include a mesmerizing “Instant Karma,” a monotonous “Give Peace A Chance,” a soul infused version of “The Ballad of John Yoko” worthy of Ike and Tina Turner, and a numbing “Mind Games.” Two new Lennon songs, “India, India,” and “I Don’t Want to Lose You,” pass without as much as a puff of genuine passion (another new song, “Cookin’ in the Kitchen of Love,” didn’t make it into tonight’s performance). Highlights of the night included the all female black leather rouser, “Twist and Shout,” a hilarious glam-filled “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” (with a female Elton John high kicking and playing piano), and show stopper “Women in the Nigger of the World.” The first act is the best, covering The Beatles’ meteoric rise (though “The Beatles” are barely mentioned by name) with copious Lennon dialogue about the meaning of it all, or lack thereof. Unfortunately, the quotes tend to focus on Lennon’s griping more than his brilliant sense of humor (too un-PC for sure, such as when Lennon laughingly renamed Brian Epstein’s A Cellarful of Noise, A Cellarful of Boys). Throughout, the joy of Lenon’s songs is wonderfully amplified by the powerful vocalists and careful arrangements. Act Two is where the problems begin, the one-two-three punch of Lennon’s ill-directed political activities, immigration hassles, and marital troubles, and a dearth of good songs creating boredom that nearly brings down the house, and not in a good way. A rather preachy “Imagine,” delivered by the cast as though they were in some staid gothic church, closes the show with a whimper (certainly not the way Lennon would have chosen to go out).

Still, the naysayers bashing this earnest Broadway production are missing the point. Telling the familiar Lennon tale using his own words and of course, his songs, Lennon: The Musical may not be the most well organized Broadway production to ever hit The Great White Way, but it is surely one of the most satisfying, at least for those of us who still consider the rock of the ‘60s to be more energizing and important than the pap’n’pop laden musicals (Moving Out or Mama Mia anyone?) filling Broadway’s theater district nowadays. Though original concerns about Lennon’s canon being obliterated wholesale by trained Broadway voices proved prescient to a very small degree, mostly the professional voices and the band’s understated accompaniment only served to highlight how magical Lennon’s songs are and how they continue to stand as golden moments in pop music history.

Lennon: The Musical

Reinventing The Beatle Lennon The Musical Lennon: The Musical

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