Behind the Musical: Nine Johns Come Together for Broadway's Lennon

Special Features   Behind the Musical: Nine Johns Come Together for Broadway's Lennon
 
Playbill.com takes an exclusive look at the new Broadway musical Lennon, focusing on all nine actors who portray John Lennon.

Lennon's Will Chase, Chuck Cooper, Julie Danao-Salkin, Mandy Gonzalez, Marcy Harriell, Chad Kimball, Terrence Mann, Julia Murney and Michael Potts.
Lennon's Will Chase, Chuck Cooper, Julie Danao-Salkin, Mandy Gonzalez, Marcy Harriell, Chad Kimball, Terrence Mann, Julia Murney and Michael Potts.

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Will Chase

Other Characters He Plays, Beyond John: None.
Other Credits: Aida, The Full Monty, Miss Saigon, Rent
Favorite Beatles song: "And Your Bird Can Sing" (on "Revolver") "I sang [it] for the audition."
Favorite John Lennon song: "Gimme Some Truth"
Instruments can play: Percussion, "and a little bit of piano, and very little guitar"
Why he wanted to be Lennon:"I thought it was a very different, interesting and theatrical way of presenting John's story."
Learned about Lennon: "When he was younger, we do a whole scene when we sing "Look At Me," where he starts the kind of trancing out in front of a mirror. I remember being a kid looking in the mirror and making faces as did everybody else, but I think he did it on another level. He's got a quote where he says I'm crazy or I'm a genius. Now that I've gotten to know him, he's exactly right. And he's probably a little of both."

 

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Chuck Cooper

Other Characters: Ed Sullivan, Strom Thurmond
Other Credits: The Life, Chicago, Caroline, or Change
Favorite Beatles song: "Let It Be" (on "Let It Be")
Favorite John Lennon song: "Instant Karma"
Instruments can play: Guitar and Harmonica
Why he wanted to be Lennon: "Don Scardino said he had a part for me, that was good enough. But, he was a great guy, great for the planet. And I enjoy having the opportunity to promulgate his message."
Learned about Lennon: "How deep into drugs he got at one point. But it makes sense, I guess you have to hit rock bottom before you can rise up.

 

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Julie Danao-Salkin

Other Characters: Yoko Ono, Lennon's mother Julia, Ringo Starr
Other Credits: Rent, Saturday Night Fever, The Karaoke Show
Favorite Beatles song: "Across the Universe" (on "Let It Be")
Favorite John Lennon song: "Jealous Guy" (not featured in the show). "That's what I actually auditioned with."
Instruments can play: Guitar
Why she wanted to be Lennon: "I think to have a big icon represent a time that's very interesting come with an artist who wasn't really afraid to speak up and write the kind of feelings but do the things that he wanted to do, we don't have that anymore. To have a piece a work like that tell a story was interesting to me.
Learned about Lennon: "Actually, I knew a lot more about Lennon than I did about Yoko and to learn about or to know John is to know Yoko — that was his other half. She's a very strong woman. To know all this information about her is interesting."

 

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Mandy Gonzalez

Other Characters: Maharishi, Geraldo Rivera
Other Credits: Aida, Dance of the Vampires, Eli's Comin'
Favorite Beatles song: "Do You Want To Know A Secret" (on "Please Please Me")
Favorite John Lennon song: "Beautiful Boy"
Instruments can play: None. "But I can fake pretty well for the show."
Why she wanted to be Lennon: "It was such a cool idea, it was so non traditional, something that really had never been done before. I really like the director Don Scardino and he had such a passion for John."
Learned about Lennon: "The main thing I learned is how much in common that he has with everyone. And like when he says [in the show], there's no problems only solutions, so when you feel so down, it's like 'Oh, there's somebody else that went through it too.' He was 40 when he died, he had accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. And he was just so open with all of his views, whether they be good or bad."

 

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Marcy Harriell

Other Characters: Elton John, George Harrison
Other Credits:Rent, Lucky Duck, Little Fish
Favorite Beatles song: "Within You Without You" (on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band")
Favorite John Lennon song: "Across the Universe"
Instruments can play:"When I was younger, the clarinet. I couldn't blow a note now if I tried."
Why she wanted to be Lennon: "Don Scardino had hired me as a series regular on 'Ed' and he told me the first day that we were shooting, 'Hey, I'm doing a show about Lennon, I'd like you to be in it.' And I told him that I was going to make him keep his promise."
Learned about Lennon: "I didn't know how absolutely open he was with his life. I knew he was an activist, I knew that he was outspoken, but he put everything out there, down to his affairs and how he dealt with everyday life."

 

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Chad Kimball

Other Characters: Strom Thurmond's assistant, Michael Douglas' page
Other Credits: Into The Woods, The Civil War, Good Vibrations
Favorite Beatles song: "Eleanor Rigby" (on "Revolver")
Favorite John Lennon song: "Mind Games" and "Mother"
Instruments can play: "I play a little bit of piano and a little bit of guitar."
Why he wanted to be Lennon: "I was such a great opportunity to be part of a show that is exploring the life of someone so controversial primarily. I think its important to do theatre for a wide audience that pushes the limit. And this one spoke to me because it was such a kind of experimental piece. Also, just the idea of being able to put on the stage for the first time and icon like Lennon."
Learned about Lennon: "Everything. I wasn't really a Lennon fan, I wasn't raised or into his music heavily. Just in the audition process, rehearsing the show, everything was pretty much new to me. And what a great education, not only about the man, but about the time."

 

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Terrence Mann

Other Characters: J. Edgar Hoover, Mike Douglas, Queen of England
Other Credits: The Rocky Horror Show, Barnum, Les Misérables
Favorite Beatles song: "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (on "The White Album"), "Yesterday" ("Help!") "A Day In The Life" ("Sgt. Pepper's...")
Favorite John Lennon song: "Imagine"
Instruments can play: Piano, Drums
Why he wanted to be Lennon: "I believe to tell his story is to tell the story of the way one man changed the way people. The whole thing resonates for me in real time."
Learned about Lennon: "I believe that whether he had been a Beatle or not, he would have been a mover and shaker in his life, in his world. Whether he just stayed in Liverpool or something, he would have changed the way people think about whatever he was involved with and around him."

 

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Julia Murney

Other Characters: Lennon's first wife Cynthia, Aunt Mimi
Other Credits: The Wild Party, A Class Act, First Lady Suite
Favorite Beatles song: "Julia" (on "The White Album")
Favorite John Lennon song: "Starting Over," "Mind Games," "Beautiful Boy"
Instruments can play: None. "I could probably play a spoon."
Why she wanted to be Lennon: "I've known [director Don Scardino] since I was a kid and I wanted to work with him. And I knew some of the cast who had done readings of the show. And there was the whole because I was named after a John Lennon song."
Learned about Lennon: "I learned a lot about his relationship with Yoko. We watched a lot of film and I think it's interesting because there is sort of a predisposed notion of people who think Yoko broke up The Beatles and don't like her. And regardless of all that, there's no question that these people loved each other so deeply."

 

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Michael Potts

Other Characters: Paul McCartney, Harry Nielsen
Other Credits: The American Play, Twelfth Night, The Mysteries
Favorite Beatles song: "Don't Let Me Down" (on "1967-1970" Vol. 2)
Favorite John Lennon song: "Instant Karma"
Instruments can play: Saxophone
Why he wanted to be Lennon: "Just the idea of it. This pop culture icon that has left such an indelible mark on the country. It just appeals to the better part of our humanity. A reminder that we have to fight for our rights and for a better world."
Learned about Lennon: "That he was as prolific as he was; he wrote 'Double Fantasy' in three weeks."

The cast of <i>Lennon</i>
The cast of Lennon Photo by Joan Marcus
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