Lennon (www.lennonthemusical.com), a new Broadway musical based on the life and songs of John Lennon, offered up a sneak preview to the press this week, and it looks like this show is on to something. While it’s tempting to turn a cynical eye on a production like this before seeing it—and Lennon himself would probably encourage us to do just that—the classy handling of his timeless message of peace and the high level of musical talent culled to deliver it should melt away all suspicion.
Written and directed by veteran Broadway/TV/film scribe Don Scardino and produced in arrangement with Yoko Ono, Lennon will debut at Broadway’s Broadhurst Theatre in July, with limited engagements in San Francisco (Orpheum Theatre, April 12 to May 14) and Boston (Colonial Theater, May 31 through June 25) before that. The show employs an interesting but highly effective strategy on illustrating one Beatle’s fascinating life, as all nine of the diverse ensemble takes turns at portraying Lennon, backed by a 10-piece onstage band performing 27 of his songs. The inspirational gospel quality of “Instant Karma” goes to new heights with this cast’s (pictured) spirited delivery, as does the joyousness of “(Just Like) Starting Over,” while “Give Peace a Chance” becomes an even more emotionally charged anthem.
For the Broadway show, sound designer Bobby Aitken of Bobby Aitken Sound Designs specified a Cadac J Type console, citing its flexibility and automation strengths, feeding a D&B Q1 loudspeaker system. “The Broadhurst is intimate, so there’s no place to hang anything,” Aitken reports. “The Q1 system is small enough to move in. All speakers sound good now, so selecting them really boils down to physical size and personal choice.”
Multiple TC Electronics reverbs, DPA head-worn boom mics and Masque Sound PITMIX monitoring systems teamed with a Yamaha DM2000 digital mixing console for the band were also specified. “Having a band onstage is something you don’t see very often in musical theater,” Aitken adds. “We’re trying not to put up baffling around them in the venue, so the band is involved in the whole piece.”
Clearly impassioned, Lennon is a Broadway show that takes chances and succeeds. He’s already a legendary figure—this production is a powerful reminder that John Lennon was a hero, as well.