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by Joe Hanrahan
August 2023
St. Louis Theatre Showcase

The Theatre Showcase (formerly The Crawl) came around once more, and once more I was compelled to write something new for it.  We're limited to 20 minute pieces (as five different theatre companies present each night) and I've always thought that's an easy thing to bite off - a confrontation between two or more people, presenting a situation and an outcome, a short story with a beginning, middle and end.

Just last year's ANOMALOUS EXPERIENCE began as a novel and transitioned into a play, CYNTHIA, LINDA etc began as a longer theatre work, but when the Showcase loomed, was deftly transitioned into a shorter play.

Of course, lifelong fascination with The Beatles drove the play, and the idea that blossomed was that of their wives - including ex and future.  It was grounded in a real incident - June, 1967, Sgt. Pepper's, released just weeks before, is already sweeping the world, and tonight, the boys are going to premiere "All You Need Is Love" live to 400 million people worldwide for the first tv satellite linkup.  The play depicts a fictional cocktail party before the event at the estate of Mr. and Mrs. George Harrison.  Cynthia Lennon and Maureen Starkey are there, and unexpected guests (Linda Eastman, who met Paul just prior to this, standing in for his ex-fiancee Jane Asher; and, of course, Yoko Ono, who, much to Cynthia's dismay, is already moving into John Lennon's life.

I asked Sarah Holt to direct, and she did a magnificent job, with expert casting, smooth direction, and somehow helping these young women channeling these women and their times.  (One challenge was the casting of Yoko - St. Louis does not have the widest pool of Asian actresses.  But Sarah Wilkinson, a Washington University student turned up, and she was amazing, stepping in fully prepared at the last moment, and delivering a stunning performance as Yoko.)

The other women in the cast were great as well - Alyssa Brittany as Cynthia (Alyssa played John in Midnight's earlier Beatle show, THE EVEREST GAME), Denise Chappell as Linda, Julia Gilbert as Pattie, and Greta Johnson as Maureen.

Response to the show was outstanding.  An audience member cited the crowd's reaction - saying he could tell they knew Beatles' history, and were wrapped up in every word.  

And there were several calls for more - a longer script, more words from Beatle wives, more of these performances.  It is being seriously considered.

Joe Hanrahan


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