Every community around the world has unique arts and culture. The importance and appeal of learning about different cultures, their history and what they have to offer the world is sadly underrated. Many people believe that value only comes from education in fields that will bring them more money, thus, they are fixated on studying science, mathematics, and business. This tendency is primarily due to the proliferation of technology in the last few decades. The fact is, studying the arts can be very fulfilling and beneficial for one’s future.
For Beatles fans who crave an authentic performance experience of the group’s expansive catalog of music, there is certainly no shortage of grand scale productions, which range from Rain and Let it Be on Broadway to 1964 The Tribute – an act that regularly sells out Carnegie Hall. But for fans who maintain a keen interest in the life and post-Beatles career of John Lennon specifically, Lennon: Through a Glass Onion offers something completely different.
Now in evening and matinee performances at the Union Square Theater, Lennon: Through a Glass Onion, is an intimate, two-man show featuring esteemed actor and singer John R. Waters and accompanist Stewart D’Arrietta, which originally saw sell-out tours in the duo’s native Australia. While there are no dazzling lights, clever sets, informative backdrops or special effects to bolster this very stripped down production, what you get is a heartfelt acoustic performance (guitar and piano – and D’Arrietta’s piano playing is quite excellent) of a selection of over thirty of John Lennon’s best and most autobiographical songs – both written with Paul McCartney while in The Beatles, and written and recorded by Lennon as a solo artist.
Tying the musical numbers together is Water’s biographical narrative of John Lennon’s often traumatic youth and tumultuous adulthood, the ups and down of which are punctuated and fleshed out by songs he wrote at that time. Although Water’s speaking voice is appealingly similar to Lennon’s, his (often quite gravelly) singing voice is not, so don’t expect the “close your eyes and imagine it is really him” effect that you can get with so many tributes. Through a Glass Onion is really more like watching two hardcore John Lennon fans perform his songs and talk about his life in a pub setting. This may or may not be your thing, so just know what you are walking into ahead of time.
In order to fit thirty songs into a 90-minute run time, many of the songs are performed as excerpts of various lengths, but you get the idea. Likewise, some liberty is taken with traditional arrangements, which finds “Help!” – one of The Beatles‘ most exhilarating anthems – performed almost as a dirge. Sometimes the alternative arrangements work and other times not so much.
It’s also unclear how much of the biographical information is simply improvised or creatively extrapolated based on various facts but, again, it is easy to imagine that Waters is speaking as Lennon and the story all comes together. As an aside, fans seeking more information about John Lennon’s life as a child and teenager, including the not-very-happy story about his relationship with his mother Julia – which had such a profound influence on so many of his songs — might be better served by the 2009 film, Nowhere Boy. You can find it on Netflix.
An added note about the venue, for those who’ve not yet been to the Union Square Theater, is that you are in for treat in this pristinely maintained, old school theater where every very comfy seat offers optimal viewing, so you don’t have to stretch your ticket buying budget to get the best seat in the house. The theater is also conveniently located three blocks uptown from the Union Square subway hub and is within blocks of dozens of excellent restaurants — so you can plan a night of it!
Lennon: Through a Glass Onion will run through February 22nd, 2015 at the Union Square Theater, located at 100 East 17th Street (Between Park Ave South and Irving Place), New York, NY 10003. Visit Lennon Onstage Dot Com for more information about the show, to get show times and to purchase tickets!
Armed with only his acoustic guitar and a soaring vocal range, singer/songwriter Blake Morgan celebrated the July 30th release of his latest CD, Diamonds in the Dark, with an engaging set played to a packed house at Manhattan’s Cutting Room. Continue reading Blake Morgan Debuts New CD at NYC’s The Cutting Room
On our way to last night’s opening reception at Bold Hype on West 27th Street, we came upon the collaborative art duo known as Pink Assignment (Mariangeles Soto-Diaz and Claudia Sbrissa) who were putting up an installation of hot pink satin ribbons tied in web-like fashion between the support poles of a sidewalk construction overhang. We stopped to say Hello.
Speaking briefly with Mariangeles – who, dressed in her awesome pink jumpsuit, was super friendly and enthusiastic at the prospect of being the featured Pink Thing of The Day here on The Gig – I learned that Pink Assignment is all about giving public visibility and supporting women’s issues using the language of abstraction. In other words, without getting in anyone’s face. We can get behind that.
The participatory performance/installation using Pink Ribbon along 27th Street was the outdoor portion of the duo’s debut work, Pull Up, taking place at the Soho 20 Chelsea Gallery (547 West 27th St. Suite 301). To culminate the performance, Pink Assignment connected the outside and inside of the gallery by taking a very long pink ribbon line up the staircase, all the way to the gallery on the third floor. The inside of the gallery had a site-specific installation connecting ceiling, floor and walls also using hot pink satin ribbon, creating a three-dimensional maze-like drawing in space. Festive, inviting and political, the ribbon line structures of the project can be interpreted as struggle but negotiated with creative ease, a mode of building and reveling in the complexity of pink. The performance by Pink Assignment is part of the Savoir-Faire 2012 – the fourth annual performance series featuring women artists curated by Soho20 Chelsea Gallery director Jenn Dierdorf.
Everyone who knows me is aware of how difficult it can be to get me to leave my house to attend a mid-week rock show. Unless food is involved, it is usually not going to happen. The reasons for this are two-fold. First of all, any band whose set time starts later than 9:00 PM is automatically eliminated from consideration, because if I’m not in bed asleep by 11:30 PM I turn into a pumpkin. Secondly, I honestly hate 90% of all music recorded after 1985. Just being serious.