Taking a gander into the world of an immortalised icon generally takes the form of tribute acts, art galleries or documentaries. Scandals and typical interviews with the daughter of the personal assistant and other tenuously linked personnel water down the achievements and ignore the positives of the life in question. However, the fantastical talent that is John Lennon couldn’t be luckier to have such a passionate and creative fan in Australian actor and musician John Waters, most recently known for his role as Darcy Proudman in television’s hit Offspring.
“He’s dynamic and [there is an] amazing bare-bones truthfulness of his work,” Waters explains of Lennon.
“I think he is to be admired because he worked on himself so that he could be true to his own beliefs. He studied and read a lot; he was on a journey of self-improvement rather than just preaching to others.”
Admiration for this world-famous Liverpudlian prompted Waters and his co-creator Stewart D’Arrietta to create an original take on the life of Lennon. Combining his most famous songs and original spoken monologues, the show is less of a clichéd tribute and more of an inventive vision.
“I was intent on not being taken as a kind of John Lennon version of an Elvis Presley impersonator,” Waters states.
“I made this a – for want of a less ‘wanky’ word – stylised theatrical presentation, an art show if you like. It’s not really true to John Lennon; it’s very much my own impression. That’s why I wrote a monologue and didn’t use actual quotes; I just imagined things that he might have said. People often say, ‘Oh he never said that’ and I say, ‘Well… he might have?’”
As a show that debuted in a small pub in Woolloomooloo back in 1992, this premise and homage to the great Lennon has been working its way into the hearts of fans all over the world. With a stint in America coming up this year, Waters is very much adamant about being true to the optimism and ingenuity of the Beatle, ignoring the minor parts that made up his fascinating life.
“Some of my favourite songs of his are about heroin like Cold Turkey and Happiness is a Warm Gun,” Waters explains.
“But I didn’t want to deal with any of that because I don’t think it was a major part of John Lennon.”
“If I was doing a show about Keith Richards then it would be different!” he laughs. (CD)
Jan 28-Feb 2, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, $69-99, (02) 9250 7777, sydneyoperahouse.com