- John Lennon (1940-1980) is an international cultural icon. As the senior creative partner with Paul McCartney, their collaboration, the driving force behind the Beatles, Lennon & Co. totally transformed rock music during the latter half of the 20th century. With his vicious assassination by whacked out loner Mark David Chapman, Lennon ascended to the rock'n'roll pantheon, his earthly martyrdom turning him into a god. Lennon is an onslaught of songs and music presenting the life and times of this mythical figure. Big screen projections of stills and video used throughout recall little John's birth during the London blitz in October 1940, how his dad took off and his grand mum raised him. The precocious Liverpool lad attends art school and forms a band. Lennon's story is narrated/sung by a series of voices (everyone is Lennon), Greek choruses and soloists keeping the action moving at a gallop. Some numbers suggestive of The Rocky Horror Picture Show ensure that attention never flags. There is no attempt at any kind of recreation of actual reality, as for instance, when The Beatles are introduced, they are four girl musicians, rocking and rolling familiar Fab Four tunes. Novel and exciting, this free form presentation of John Lennon et al. continually upends our expectations. This show has the blessing of Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, ergo a lot of time is spent on their relationship, including their meeting cute in a New York gallery, when he was seduced by her apparent simplicity and gravitas. About the same time, Lennon and the other Beatles become acolytes of the Mahareeshi Yogi, whose babbling is treated like Holy Writ. Looking at the junk that Yoko Ono palmed off as profound art, and the Indian guru's gibberish, all of which Lennon swallowed hook, line and sinker, it's easy to question his judgment, if not common sense. Of Lennon's consorting with the likes of Abby Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, the less said the better. Lennon reintroduces some music that doesn't get much airplay. "Woman is the Nigger of the World" sounds better here than it ever did when Lennon himself sang it. The songs slip away, time slips away and Lennon moves toward his rendezvous at the Dakota. The old video of Lennon at the piano singing "Imagine", while Yoko goes about an immaculate white room opening doors, sets us up for the excruciating loss. John Lennon has been dead for nearly a quarter of a century, but with Lennon, this incomparable artist-philosopher is reborn. Written and directed by Don Scardino, the musical uses 27 of Lennon's songs including "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance." The cast includes Broadway veteran performers Will Chase, Chuck Cooper, Julie Danao, Mandy Gonzalez, Marcy Harriell, Chad Kimball, Terrence Mann, Julia Murney, and Michael Potts.
Performances: M-Sa 8p; W & Sa 2p Tickets: $44.25-101.25
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