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John Lennon's Life and Music Unfold in Australian Play

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`LOOKING Through a Glass Onion,'' a new play about the life of John Lennon, gives you an odd sensation. It's like seeing Lennon playing a small club with a superb studio band in the 1990s. Here's this guy, in a cool gray Italian suit with a black T-shirt, who looks like Lennon and sings his songs; not exactly like him, he's raspier, but close enough. Plus, he's got this tight band that plays Beatles and Lennon songs, but with snazzy new interpretations.

The project is a collaboration: Musical director Stewart D'Arrietta, who plays keyboards and sings harmony, chose songs he felt captured the essence of Lennon. John Waters, one of Australia's leading actors and musical performers, who plays Lennon, conceived the idea and wrote the monologue that links the songs.

``Looking Through a Glass Onion'' is a collage of Lennon's life. He talks about Paul McCartney (``Paul was much more advanced musically. He had diminished chords.''); the impact that Dylan had on him; the connection with the Maharishi, the racism the British press showed toward Yoko Ono; breaking up with the Beatles; he and Yoko having their son, Sean, after doctors told them they couldn't. On his and Yoko's peace efforts: ``We didn't mind being clowns. We were a PR company for peace. War got all the footage, we wanted to redress the balance.''

It's thematically organized around 26 songs, including ``Day in the Life,'' ``Lucy in the Sky,'' ``All You Need is Love,'' ``Strawberry Fields,'' ``Julia,'' ``Woman,'' ``Watching the Wheels,'' ``Isolation,'' and ``Imagine.''

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