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    John Lennon’s inspirational music is loved by generations of people across the world. Coming to the Royal Court Theatre Liverpool, we spoke to Mark McGann about the incredible In my Life

     

    Apart from Lennon’s music, what were the main inspirations behind In my Life?

    The first time I did In my Life was 2008, as a result of the Capital of Culture year. The sequence of events actually is quite interesting. It’s obvious that I had an ongoing relationship with the character for all of my professional life, because one of my first acting jobs when I turned professional back in 1980/81 was for the Everyman Theatre Company in Liverpool, which was doing Lennon as part of their season. I did Lennon again in 1985 in the West End; then I did the film, John and Yoko: A Love Story, on the back of that for NBC in the United States. Then I didn’t touch it again until 1992 when Bill Kenwright approached me and he said, “I’ve got this show I want to do at the Liverpool Playhouse called Imagine. Would you be interested in doing it?” At the time, the idea was that if it [Imagine] was a success we would take it out on the road and tour the world with it, but I was really busy as an actor doing other things and couldn’t do it. I just did the show at the Playhouse and it was a big success. They [the audience] were queuing up around the streets for it and they extended the show by about eight weeks. That was the last time I did the part [Lennon] until 2008. In about 2005/2006 I opened a company called Drama Direct Limited, which is to do with giving lots of different multimedia projects to the industry and educational purposes as well. It gave me an opportunity to do lots of other things apart from acting, so when I was approached to do something about Lennon in 2008 as part of the Capital of Culture year, the timing was right. That was called The John Lennon Songbook, which was a big show with the orchestra at the Liverpool Philharmonic [Hall]. We actually did it [The John Lennon Songbook] in July just gone. It’s not like In my Life, other than it being a similar script because Bob Eaton has written the script, but because it is orchestrated music and there are no electric instruments on it, it’s a completely different experience. In my Life is something that I was asked to do in 2008 when I first did that [The John Lennon Songbook]. Bill Heckle, who is one of the Directors of Cavern City Tours, asked if I would be interested in doing it and I said I’d love to do it, because I hadn’t done a rock show in years. I said, “Who should I use as a band?” and he said, “I’ve got just the people for you – Pepperland. George Martin [Record Producer] had recommend them really highly, because they had played the live music for the Yellow Submarine remaster film, which was about five or six years ago. I met the guys and we’ve had this on-going relationship performing the show once a year ever since. I’ve done it now about three or four times in Liverpool, but this is the first year we’re doing two shows. It’s because the response to last year’s show was so magnificent, I thought we better put another show on and that’s the story of it really. It’s only been going since 2008; it’s honed and in fantastic shape. It’s certainly one of the shows closest to my heart.

    Above: Pepperland

     

    It’s lovely to hear how your relationship playing Lennon has developed and In my Life has gained so much praise over the past few years – What was your first reaction to the amazing audience response?

    It’s like the gift that keeps on giving, because this is a man who I have admired since I was kid. Growing up in Liverpool just off the streets of Kensington, with this large family, we were all fans. I wasn’t born until the early sixties so when I was tiny they [The Beatles] were at their height. Even in the seventies you could feel it and I was fortunate enough to be involved in the second wave of artists from Liverpool, which happened at the end of the seventies. In particular I was one person who got really lucky; it was deemed that I could do a really good John Lennon. What I’m trying to do with it is act the character and trying to portray something that people can identify with as being real. On that basis it really frees me up to do things that are my take on the character, rather than to talk or sing in a particular way. Liverpool has always been lovely to me. I walked on the stage at the Liverpool Philharmonic last month and before I could even open my mouth to sing, they [the audience] were clapping me. I can’t tell you how much that means from the bottom of my heart, to feel that kind of warmth. To have that kind of rapport and that welcoming back, it genuinely moved me. I’m one of those people who really believes in the original Greek concept of theatre, which is about a group of people coming together with one half performing to the other half and changing places.  My idea of theatre, having come from my Everyman Theatre background, is very much about that. I really believe that it’s a joint effort and that everybody is involved in it. Those experiences in the theatre for me are about making those connections and getting through that journey together. It’s very special to be in Liverpool.

     

    You’re bringing the show to the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool. Were there any particular reasons behind the venue choice?

    Back in the 1970’s and going to rock concerts there, there was never a better venue to see rock concerts. The way it’s shaped…it just lends itself beautifully to feeling involved as an audience. Traditionally it’s a great music venue and it’s a great fit for the show.

     

    What is it about John Lennon and his music that continues to inspire generations of people?

    Everything he wrote…there’s that humanity aspect to it. He was a real auto-biographical artist. What you’re getting is this chronological series of events. When you do his music in chronological order and link it to a script – and the script we’ve got is really good – you have a really powerful experience.

     

    Can you sum up In my Life in three words?

    Once in a lifetime.

     

    Mark McGann’s In my Life is at the Royal Court Theatre Liverpool on Sunday 30th August 2015.

    3pm & 8pm performances.

    To find out more and to purchase tickets, please visit www.royalcourtliverpool.co.uk or call the Box Office: 0151 709 4321

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      Sarah's posts By Sarah O' Hara
      @TheLowdownMag


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