The Mid-Eighties

 

Still to come... Around the world, Frank Ifield and more...

 

logo for LENNON - The Musical

In 1986 the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust staged a production of 'LENNON - The Musical of the Legend'. The show, written by Bob Eaton, began as an ensemble piece at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, England five years earlier. Later it won Best Musical in London's 'West End' and was also staged in New York. In Australia it opened at Sydney's Enmore Theatre, directed by Clare Venables, moving onto the Civic Theatre, Newcastle and finally the QPAC Lyric Theatre, Brisbane. The musical tells the life of John Lennon through his songs and the music of The Beatles. Parts of the piece faithfully recreate portions of history while at other songs are juxtaposed in the chronology because their lyrics illustrate particular events so well.

BEATLES PORTRAYED ON STAGE PAUL PORTRAYED ON STAGE
ABOVE LEFT: The Beatles are portrayed here by (L to R) Bob Howe, Mark Jones, Trevor White, and Jeremy Stanford. Photos taken at the Queensland Performing Arts Complex, Feb '87.
ABOVE RIGHT: Paul McCartney during the 'Let It Be' sessions, portrayed by Bob Howe.

REAL BEATLES ON HOTEL BALCONY

 
LEFT: The real Beatles (minus Ringo who was in London having his tonsils removed) wave to fans from the balcony of room 810 at the Sydney Sheraton Hotel on June 11, 1964

BELOW: The 'LENNON' Beatles wave from the same spot during a publicity jaunt. (L to R) Mark Jones, Trevor White, Peter Bishop, Bob Howe.

BEATLES PORTRAYED ON HOTEL BALCONY

'LENNON - The Musical of the Legend' opened to mixed reviews in Sydney and misgivings about the venue which were later vindicated when the show proved a hit in Brisbane. Unfortunately the producers had by then sunk well over a million dollars (Australian) into production costs and renovating the Enmore Theatre. Their decision to cut their losses ended the run of the show before it could tour the other capital cities. A 'cast' album was recorded at Sydney's Paradise Studios featuring the entire cast plus understudies Jeremy Cook, Julie Cook and Paul Smyth. It was produced by the shows esteemed musical director Chris Monks, and was released on vinyl and cassette on the Big Time label just as the musical closed, and subsequently disappeared.

Cast of LENNON - The Musical

THE CAST - WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
(from back - left to right)
Trevor White (Ringo), Mark Jones (George);
Faye Bendrups (Yoko), Greg Parke (older John), Bob Howe (Paul), Peter Bishop (younger John);
Lance Strauss (Brian Epstein, Elton John), George Butrumlis (Queen Elizabeth!), Naomi Warne (Cynthia Lennon).
Not pictured, Jeremy Cook, Jeremy Stanford, Paul Smyth, Julie Cook.

Trevor is in much demand as a session singer and was often seen backing international stars on Channel 9's 'The Midday Show'. Lance was famous not only as 'Chucky' in the Telstra Mobile-Net ads and for performing the lead in 'Les Miserables', but has achieved international acclaim as 'Elton Jack'. Mark and Greg are performers in the 'Elton Jack Show' along with Jeremy Cook who is also in Mic Conway's National Junk Band. Faye writes musicals for childrens' theatre in Melbourne. Peter performs as a popular solo artist on the Sydney scene. George fronts the exciting Melbourne band 'Zydeco Jump'. Jeremy Stanford (younger John in the Brisbane production) went on to portray Buddy Holly in 'Buddy' and John Lennon in 'Looking Through A Glass Onion', and continues a successful musical theatre, television and film career. Paul Smyth (older John understudy) has released an album of his own compositions.

Musical Director Chris Monks continues his successful career in the UK and as a writer and director "...developed an impressive reputation for original and hugely entertaining re-workings of classic operas".
Director Clare Venables was artistic director of the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and later director of education and new technology for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Sadly, she died in 2003. The Guardian remembers her as "one of British theatre's unsung heroes."

 

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