Interview: John Waters reflects on Lennon – Through a Glass Onion ahead of Sydney Opera House shows

Created and performed by renowned Australian actor/musician John Waters and esteemed singer/pianist Stewart D’Arrietta, Lennon – Through a Glass Onion is part concert and part biography, revealing the essence of the life and astonishing talent of one of the most admired icons of the past century. It’s a compelling story and features 31 iconic hits of Lennon and his collaborations with McCartney including Imagine, Strawberry Fields Forever, Revolution, Woman, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Working Class Hero, and Jealous Guy.

In advance of the production heading to the Sydney Opera House for the next week, we caught up with John Waters to talk about the show.

Can you begin by briefly introducing yourself. How long have you been working in the arts industry?

I have been in the arts industry since God was a boy….ie 50 years +

Your first Lennon-themed show was at the Tilbury Hotel in Sydney’s Woolloomooloo in 1992. Do you remember a highlight from that show? How has the show changed over time?

The highlight for me was having to crawl over patrons laps to get onto the postage sized stage. We now have the luxury of coming onto the stage from stage right!

Why do you think audiences should come and see Lennon: Through A Glass Onion?

I think it will take them onto a mind trip they wouldn’t expect. They shouldn’t anticipate a happy clappy Beatles show, though there is nothing wrong with a happy clappy beatles show. This is a pretty dark musical journey which is why is has lasted so long.

The show features 31 iconic solo and Beatles tracks. How did you decide which ones to include? How did you decide what to leave out?

Basically I included most of the songs which are autobiographical and reflected actual events – his life as a Beatle, father and peace activist, then on top of that I didn’t want to leave out songs like Strawberry Fields which moved me personally.

What’s your favourite Lennon song? What’s your favourite Beatles song? Why?

Strawberry Fields – it just moved me at the time and has never left.

You and Stewart D’Arrietta have been embraced by New Yorkers at the Union square Theatre How do American fans compare to Australian audiences?

New Yorkers have a particularly strong attachment to John Lennon as he did to their city. So playing there was a new challenge and the audience loved our show the same way as everywhere else which indicates the universality of this show.

What’s the most obscure Lennon fact you know? Do you incorporate this into the show?

His group masturbation sessions with his school friends – and that is in the show!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers of The AU Review about Through A Glass Onion or your other upcoming projects?

Come and see for themselves. Its been over 25 years since we first performed…and its stronger than ever. My next show is touring Bob Dylan songs – Dylan Revisited with Doug Parkinson, Glenn Shorrock, Wendy Matthews and Wes Carr.

Lennon – Through a Glass Onion will be performed in the Sydney Opera House Playhouse on the below dates.

Tuesday February 19 – 7.30pm
Wednesday February 20 – 7.30pm
Thursday February 21 – 7.30pm
Friday February 22 – 7.30pm
Saturday February 23 – 2.00pm & 7.30pm
Sunday February 24 – 5.00pm

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