This theatrical experience that encapsulates the man and musician that was John Lennon has been touring since 1992 and is now in its third incarnation. When I spoke with Mr Waters, he was adamant that his love affair with the great (Liverpudlian) ‘Scouse’ accented Beatle was still raging as intensely as it was when the show was first conceived. His collaboration with co-writer and musician Stewart D’Arrietta all those years back has stood the test of time and audiences still can’t get enough. Sure, luck played a part – Lennon had only been dead 12 years and the world-wide grieving process was still palpable, but the combination of the masterly theatrical Waters and the musicianship of D’Arrietta was spot on. But let’s go back…
John Waters began performing as a musician in London before he headed to Australia in 1968 as a 20-year-old. Decades later and with a bevy of film, television and theatrical performances beneath his belt (think 20 years on Playschool, stints on Rush, The D-Generation, All the Rivers Run, All Saints, Offspring and the ABC’s Rake), he still sounds just as mellow as he did when I had a bit part in the mini-series Nancy Wake and I had to play dead beneath him (and yes, those eyes are as blue as the Port Phillip Bay sea that inspires you and me). This is a performer who can sing, dance and play a mean guitar. He’s in a rock opera in Melbourne in July, co-writing another opera and there’s always the possibility of directing because he’s “had his fill of playing dashing heroes”. He’s also just wrapped up a performance in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Jonathon Biggins’ Talk where he played a radio talk show host. This gentleman is a versatile chameleon and a showman who inhabits each character and brings them to their knees.
“It’s just what I do. I don’t get tired of it. I’m most comfortable when I’m working and giving my all. I love the intimate setting of the Lennon show. It’s an intense performance and Lennon was a troubled man, but he spoke to me. Told me that I didn’t have to do what others told me to do.”
“Rolls change as you grow older,” he continues, “and the Lennon show has changed too. We only had a one week booking at the Tilbury Hotel in Woolloomooloo when we began. 25 years later – who would of thought?” (The show has been performed in the UK, Canada, USA, NZ and Australia.) “I’m looking forward to these regional performances. Aussie audiences are relaxed.” I ask him if he ever gets any time to do just that? “We have a place in the Southern Highlands of NSW and I have young children – 10-year-old twins and a 14-year-old. I spend my down time with them. I’m really enjoying having young kids again.”
And we enjoy your wonderful performances Mr Waters.
Lennon: Through a Glass Onion is on at the Frankston Arts Centre Sunday June 11.