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Old Apr 15, 2005, 02:34 AM   #1
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Default Review: New musical should be called All About Yoko

Yes, this belongs in the News forum. It's news that all BLinkers will want to see, even if it is a review of the Lennon musical. I should say that the writer is someone I know from a couple of places and she is known as anti-Yoko...however, that said, I would like to think her assessment is as objective as she could make it. I've had the same qualms about this project all along, as I've stated before -- and I'm NOT anti-Yoko! Boy, am I glad I didn't buy tickets for the New York run.

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http://www.whatgoeson.com/story.20050414.html

Review: New musical should be called All About Yoko


by Katie Hickox, What Goes On Special Correspondent

If you are a fan of Yoko Ono, then you'll love "Lennon the Musical".

"Lennon the Musical", which had its world premiere in San Franciso on Tuesday, is all about John and Yoko's fabulous life together, their incredible love story and amazing love for each other. John's Beatles past is dismissed, because in the musical John is portrayed as needing to move on from the Beatles, was tired of the Beatles and found true love with Yoko.

The musical focuses on John and Yoko "starting over" post Beatles and is a tribute to their life together. No music from the Lennon-McCartney catalogue is included in the show, just John Lennon's solo work in the seventies. However, one highlight of this musical is hearing two previously unreleased John Lennon songs, "I Donít Want to Lose You" and "India".


Cast of Lennon The Musical

How low can you go?

While John Lennon certainly was no saint, the musical portrays John right from the start in a poor light as a philanderer, by showing a scene from a party in the early seventies in which it is implied John has a tryst with a woman in another room. As a result, Yoko decides to split with John, which results in John's "lost weekend" in Los Angeles. During this "lost weekend", John is portrayed as lost and amounting to nothing without Yoko, showing him engaging in excessive partying and drinking.

In a scene which takes place in a Los Angeles nightclub, in which a drunken John yells "Dickie you're an a**hole" at the top of his lungs to Dickie Smothers, who is onstage performing as part of the Smothers Brothers duo, the use of profanity is completely uncalled for and does disrespect to the memory of John. At this point, John is described as having been apart from Yoko for just one year (he actually lived in Los Angeles with May Pang for 18 months) and makes no mention of his lover May that Yoko appointed to be John's mistress during their time apart.

Finding true love?

A turning point in the musical is when John and Yoko reunite and reconnect at the famous New York City concert in which John is performing on stage and their eyes suddenly meet. Finally Yoko has permitted John to finally come back home after he realized he was "lost" and nothing without her.

The audience is treated to their "true love" when John and Yoko are sitting together at a piano and John sings a love song ("Love" from the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album) to Yoko, slowly kissing her against a romantic backdrop of projected large intricate falling snow flakes.

Sean Lennon is featured prominently during the "Beautiful Boy" song but in contrast, Julian Lennon gets only a brief mention as John's son from a previous failed marriage to his first wife Cynthia.

So if you love Yoko and John's solo works, this is a musical to go see. But please, Beatles fans, no giggling allowed!


More information:
ē Lennon The Musical





Published April 14, 2005 This article is Copyright © 2005, The Author
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Old Apr 15, 2005, 07:48 AM   #2
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I don't get it. How is any of this anti-Yoko? It sounds like an accurate portrayal of John in the 70s to me. And in case the reviewer didn't notice, Yoko was a huge part of his life that entire time, including his music. I'm going to one of the San Fran shows, and I'm looking forward to it for sure.

One thing that makes no sense to me - how does profanity disrespect the memory of Lennon? Isn't that exactly what happened that night at the Troubadour in LA? That's just a lame statement, the guy was human, check his lyrics. If this reviewer listened to "Working Class Hero" she'd probably keel over.
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Old Apr 15, 2005, 07:51 AM   #3
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Interesting. It's been sounding all along that it was going to be kind of like that though, so I'm not terribly surprised. I think it's fine if you want to focus a story on only certain parts of the subject's life, but when you completely downplay or ignore the other parts, it kind of smacks of an agenda.

Oh well, I'd still be interested in hearing whether the actual production was well done or not - if the singing and acting and staging were good, not just the "perspective issue". One hopes it's at least a quality performance, even if it's a bit one-sided.
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Old Apr 15, 2005, 07:53 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry
One thing that makes no sense to me - how does profanity disrespect the memory of Lennon?
Yeah, I didn't get that either. Susan, is this writer a "John-on-a-pedestal" kind of fan?
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Old Apr 15, 2005, 08:36 AM   #5
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I agree with both of you. I know the writer from another group and I do know she cannot stand Yoko. REALLY cannot stand her. And yes, I think she definitely has John on a pedestal and thinks that Yoko brainwashed and hypnotized John to come back to her when he was with May...the usual conspiracy theories... I'm not condemning her for believing that stuff, but I don't.

I didn't mean the SHOW was anti-Yoko, I meant that the WRITER has been known to be. She assumed *I* was because of one slightly negative remark I made about her on the other list -- and those of you who know me here know I'm definitely not. Frankly, I won't really worry too much about reviews until I see ones from reviewers who are not also Beatle people -- e.g., who don't have a bias. When the NY Times or San Francisco Chronicle or whatever review it (and I think perhaps this review is based on the previews, which isn't really allowed, you should NEVER review a show before it officially opens because a lot of things can change in previews) I will take any comments with a grain of salt.

But yes, yes, this writer is absolutely a "John on a pedestal" person. And it is laughable to think that profanity somehow disrespects a man who swore as easily as he breathed!
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Old Apr 15, 2005, 08:39 AM   #6
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Have her come here and read this then, I'd love to see her reaction.
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Old Apr 15, 2005, 08:46 AM   #7
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Nah, ain't worth it...she won't agree with us. I only posted her review for conversational value...clearly it has some, look at us discussing it!
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"When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow." - Anais Nin
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Old Apr 15, 2005, 09:30 AM   #8
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I've heard all kinds of stuff about this musical. Most of the stuff i've heard is mediocre in terms of reviewing it...
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Old Apr 16, 2005, 11:10 AM   #9
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thanks for posting this Susan, I will be interested to see if this is a quality production...
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Old Apr 17, 2005, 06:42 AM   #10
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That was a good point about this generating discussion, Susan. I admit that I don't like it when people bash Yoko and put John on a pedastal. From all accounts, John didn't want to be on any pedastal and would not have willingly gone for that.

This is indeed very interesting and yeah, to be taken with a grain of salt as well.
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Old Apr 18, 2005, 03:43 PM   #11
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Default The use of profanity isn't just the problem

Fellow Beatles fans and friends of Yoko's:

first, it's not that I'm anti-yoko or pro-May. If you read May Pang's book, "loving john" there is clear evidence that the "stop-smoking hypnosis" session turned into something way beyond a brief 90 minute session from which John never returned home that evening for dinner with May or to live with her again. many other books also back up that JOhn's return to Yoko was less than voluntary and was a real setback to him since he gave up music to be a househusband to Sean. He had stopped taking Yoko's calls the month before and was planning to buy a house he had found for May and him to live in. all this is documented. So Yoko became desparate to get John back from May.

The new "Lennon" musical offers 28 songs, most of them are from Lennon's solo catalogue, only two from the Lennon-McCartney catalogue (Ballad of John and yOko and Cold Turkey). I give Yoko credit for giving these songs from the seventies airplay and I do love the singing/cast in the show. HOwever, I'm not happy about how the Beatles get played at Hamburg by 4 women singing "money" and then fast forward before the queen of england "twist and shout". Having women play the Beatles trivializes them.

However, the nightclub scene sickens me not just because profanity was used:

It is disturbing that the musical makes it appear as
if John was waiting all of his life to meet YOko, that
he wasn't happy with the Beatles and that he found
true happiness and love and fulfillment only when he
met Yoko. Worst of all during the "year long" break apart from yoko in the musical, (he actually lived with May Pang 18 months and spent a year living with May living in NYC) from Yoko, John is portrayed as living by himself, as
distraught, lost and constantly drunk all the time without Yoko.
All of which was untrue.

I groaned during the horrible Troubadour nightclub
scene in which John describes himself as a drunken
a**hole with a kotex pad on his head and then
demonstrates what an "a**hole" he was during this time
by yelling at Dickie smothers at the top of his lungs
(really booms it out) "dickie you're an a**hole". Then
as he is being dragged out, John shouts out at the
waitress if she knows who he is and then she also
saying "you're an a**hole wearing a kotex on your
head". Three times the word "a**hole" is used. John
deserved better than to have one of his drinking faux paus
brought up like this in a musical to show why Yoko thinks
that John was lost (he wasn't) or out of control (he was
with May Pang the entire evening) or alone (again he was
with may pang the entire 18 months).

How completely disgusting.

It is not until John and Yoko reconnect at a concert
in NYC with John and Elton John playing together, that
John magically reunites with Yoko all because he
looked at her in the audience and "reconnected". that really is a
stretch of the imagination.

I would have preferred seeing JOhn play IMagine on a large screen by himself at the famous white piano for the close of the musical. Instead, an old film of Yoko opening up doors in a room to let in some light in which JOhn is off in the corner playing is shown and ends with a huge picture of Yoko with JOhn.

When it comes to music, I just prefer seeing the Beatles either alone or with their respective bands minus their spouses and that includes linda.

Yoko ends up putting herself in nearly every scene in the musical even before she entered John's life.

regards
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Old Apr 18, 2005, 03:57 PM   #12
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Hi Katie, I didn't realize you were a member here.

No disrespect intended, but the conspiracy theories about Yoko "hypnotizing" John and brainwashing him are, IMO, patently ridiculous. I'm sorry, but I think you are into way too much really bizarre stuff regarding this. I have read May's book and plenty of others, and do not necessarily believe this theory. In fact, other than May's book, any that "back this up" are questionable at best as far as their reliability is concerned.

You are entitled to your opinion about John and Yoko, but I am sure you will find many here who disagree with you, myself included, as we have also discussed by email.

I hope you will contribute to other threads on this forum as well and not just keep spouting conspiracy theories about Yoko and John.
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Old Apr 18, 2005, 04:46 PM   #13
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Susan,

I wrote several paragraphs about "lennon" the musical but you wrote me off because I brought up the stuff about the "stop smoking cure" that you believe is ridiculous.

I'm sorry I disagree with you on this and you are entitled to your opinion as we have discussed in earlier emails. I have only recently finished reading May's book a few months ago and have been thinking about all this stuff. There are several sources in different books that make reference to stuff that Yoko was heavily into like voodoo, tarot readers, astrology, witchcraft as it relates to John. I know you are rock solid in your belief that this is all crap about Yoko and she's just getting a bad wrap from fans like me.

I'm new to this "stop smoking hypnosis" session episode and have been trying to get more info on this and I don't try to bring it up in every Beatles post I make.

To write off everything else regarding my experience of "lennon" the musical that I have written is unfair just because I have stumbled upon the may pang book and her allegations.

Regardless of under what circumstances John reunited with YOko, it still doesn't change the fact that in "Lennon" the musical, the nightclub scene is a real low point for me, I don't enjoy seeing JOhn's memory trashed just so "Lennon" the musical can have a "dramatic" moment in which Yoko appears as a saint and why John so "needed her".

Let's not forget that john produced two albums living with may pang: "walls and bridges" and "rock and roll" plus cowrote several hit songs and performed with Elton John. John was doing great musically when he was with May. But once he was "reunited " with Yoko, he completely put the brakes on writing any more songs or working on any new albums until nearly 5 years later even before Sean was born. It's sad to just airbrush a loved one out of John's life since "Lennon" the musical was suppose to be about the last 10 years of John's life.

I have no plans to keep bringing up the may pang's claims of hypnosis on this or any other thread/post. I only brought it up because it certainly changes how things look for JOhn's last 5 years of his life.

again my sincere apologies if my questioning has offended you or any pro-yoko fans out there. I read about it and am just very curious about what happened and have been looking into it. I shouldn't be banned or excluded or condemmed because of my curiousity.
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Old Apr 18, 2005, 05:14 PM   #14
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I read your whole post, Katie, I just commented on the part that I thought was important to me a the moment.

I have had my own wary feelings about this musical from the time it was announced, as you know -- I've said this on this forum and in others to which we both belong. I don't like when Yoko acts like John had no life at all before she came along, it's like she thinks we fans are stupid or something. I don't like when she erases people like May from John's history (and I've corresponded with May about this, actually), or when she acts like Cynthia and Julian and the Beatles and everything that came before he climbed that ladder at the Indica Gallery was negligible, because it most certainly is not. And that's why I'm NOT planning to necessarily see this show. (BTW, did you review a preview performance of the NY production? Because generally reviewers aren't supposed to write reviews until a show opens. Just wondering...)

However, to say that SHE purposely made John put the brakes on his music to raise a child is ridiculous, John himself wanted to be a better and more hands-on parent to Sean than he was to Julian, and he could have easily handed the child off to a nanny and created music. He didn't want to, he wanted to be a father and CHOSE to raise his son. I do not believe he was forced into anything regarding that child.

A lot of the things you are saying are straight out of Albert Goldman's scumbucket of a book, or Free Seaman's lying tome that was stopped by the courts, or any number of trashworks by Geoffrey Giuliano. I do not consider either of these books to be reliable sources, but rather they are trash and not to be considered without careful realization of the source. There are FAR more reliable works on John's life out there -- I'd believe most of what May says (and I do), but even she doesn't know certain things for sure, and she has said as much.

I did indeed read the rest of your post, and I think your review of the show is in large part correct. You didn't offend me, sorry if I gave that impression.
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Old Apr 18, 2005, 08:00 PM   #15
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susan,

yes I recently saw a preview of "Lennon" here in San Francisco which opened last Tuesday night. I also got a chance to talk to Don Scardino in person and ask him why he chose to have women play the early Beatles in Hamburg (wearing leather) and then the monkey suits before QEII. He said that he "knows" that John wanted to have women playing the Beatles and that he wanted to be "creative" and that his musical is very much "gender bender" with woman playing men's roles. He then went on to say that he is a very big Beatles fan and that everything said is being said in John's own words but that this is how John "wanted" the Beatles and his story to be told.

I asked him why he had a woman (who looked like Yoko) included in the early Carl Perkins band and he said that was to represent Julia but I never would have gotten that interpretation in a million years. It looked like Yoko was putting herself in John's early life even before she met John. No men ever play the yoko figure, it always just Yoko playing Yoko.

I am glad you have been in touch with may, I too have let her know how very sorry I am at how she was airbrushed out of the musical completely and that John was portrayed as being lost, lonely, drunk without Yoko.

I have also recently picked up John Green's book and also Tony Bramwell's book "magical mystery tours" which blames the demise of the Beatles and John's disintegration at Yoko's doorstep.

What set me off about this was having watched an interview of Julia Baird in the "long and winding road" DVD set on the Beatles in which she talks about her famous brother having been "taken over" by Yoko like he was "possessed" by her and stopped being himself, the brother she used to know. It kind of stuck with me.

also I had the good fortune of seeing the fabulous robert whittaker photo exhibition in liverpool a few years ago (and I got to meet him too) in which he had displayed giant photos of John and cynthia together from the summer of 1967 and in which John is shown as happy, clear eyed and very much himself. In contrast after he meets Yoko, he looks unhappy, glassy eyed (on drugs), out of it, he looks tormented.

And also the "Get Back" book based on the disastrous Let it Be session video tapes showed that John no longer spoke for himself, he clearly spoke to please Yoko, everything he said was what she wanted him to say, not what he wanted to say by himself. Hence John and Yoko forced the other beatles to start talking to Yoko instead of talking to John directly which resulted in George's being the first to take a hike.

so it wasn't just Albert Goldman's book or Fred Seaman's book. It's several sources, over many years and may's passage just clicked in.

By the way, I wouldn't recommend spending more than $25 for a ticket on this: if you decide to go, get to the box office 2 hours ahead and they release "pit" tickets which are next to the stage where the pit band members would have sat but since they're on stage they can sell a few more tickets by adding a few rows.

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Old Apr 18, 2005, 10:27 PM   #16
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In that cast picture, none of the women looked like Yoko to me. I look way more like Yoko than any of them...at least I have the right hair. None of those women are even Japanese.

I'm glad this musical focuses more on John through the Seventies. Enough of Beatle-John has been presented; it's good for the casual fans to learn about what happened AFTER that period in his life. (Which he said wasn't the most important period in his life...remember: "We were just a band, is all, a band that made it very, very big.")

By John's own statements, meeting Yoko WAS the most important event in his life, Beatlesfan2, and by his admission, he was miserable and lost during their separation. I think I remember a quote about how apart they were just two halves of a person, and only together were they complete. John only ever expressed his delight at their reuniting. I have the tendency to go more with what came from the horse's mouth than the jilted mistress's. May still comes across as a little bitter, to me.

I'd give anything to be a friend of Yoko's. She's my favorite female artist/singer/role model, etc. etc. of all time. She's the female equivalent of John Lennon himself. Perhaps that is why he loved her. She didn't get all starry-eyed in his presence.
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Old Apr 19, 2005, 06:05 AM   #17
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I still don't understand why you're so hung up on that Troubadour scene. By all accounts, John was a completely drunken mess that night, it sounds accurate to me. I think profanity was the smallest problem at that point.

And you talk about Walls & Bridges and the R 'n R albums as proof that he was productive. I'll take his work on the last 2 albums any day over those rambling collections. I think it's widely accepted that he was completely happy as a father and was just beginning to write and record some great songs again.
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Old Apr 20, 2005, 03:03 PM   #18
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Considering that Lennon isn't due on Broadway until July, it seems rather pointless to review the show this early in its life. I'm not holding out high hopes for it in general, since these "jukebox" musicals are almost always wrongheaded, and it sounds like the thinking behind this one is more than a little peculiar. I'm also dubious about the casting, according to the pix. Not the individuals themselves--there are some seriously good people in the cast--but the way they're going to be used. Everyone plays everyone? Why? There better be a darn good reason for such roles. However, I don't want to write the show off yet; we might get lucky, and it might turn out pretty well. Shows can change a ton in three months.

Oh, found this review in the San Jose Mercury News:

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercu...y/11443095.htm

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Old Apr 21, 2005, 04:38 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LovinLennon909

I'm glad this musical focuses more on John through the Seventies. Enough of Beatle-John has been presented; it's good for the casual fans to learn about what happened AFTER that period in his life. (Which he said wasn't the most important period in his life...remember: "We were just a band, is all, a band that made it very, very big.")

I'd give anything to be a friend of Yoko's. She's my favorite female artist/singer/role model, etc. etc. of all time. She's the female equivalent of John Lennon himself. Perhaps that is why he loved her. She didn't get all starry-eyed in his presence.
First I have to admit I hate musicals. To me it's like bad dancers trying to sing and represent something on stage they don't understand. But more important to me is that you'll never learn something from a musical about the person portrayed in the musical but about the time the musical was made (by 2005 the public sees John as one half of the JohnandYoko-thing and not as a Beatle).
Yoko as a female artist? Okay. As a female role model? Why not. As singer? AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I really can estimate her work and she did some good tunes but of course this woman cannot sing (it's a fact. No insult. I cannot sing also). I don't know if she is the female equivalent of John. Probably not. He surely loved her. But I think he was more looking for a replacement of Julia than for his better half.
I am not particularely interested in Yoko bashing. This woman stands for herself, but I get irritated by all those posts telling me that Yoko was good for John' s music. She was not. She ruined nearly all his solo lp's and that's a real pity.
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Old Apr 21, 2005, 05:52 AM   #20
LittleDarlin909
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Originally Posted by Lobo
I get irritated by all those posts telling me that Yoko was good for John' s music. She was not. She ruined nearly all his solo lp's and that's a real pity.
Eh, I don't know about that. Now, I'm not a diehard Yoko fan (I'm not a diehard Yoko basher, either) but I agree, the woman can't sing (if you get the chance, listen to *Be My Yoko Ono* by barenaked ladies; I guarentee you'll have a giggle ), but I don't think she "ruined" John's music. Like it or not, she DID force him to look at the world differently which undoubtedly affected his songwriting. If nothing else, she was his muse. He wrote some truly brilliant songs while he was with her
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