It isn”t hard to imagine Daniel Taylor as John Lennon

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It’s eerie: the voice on the other end of the phone line is a dead ringer for that of John Lennon. That’s no accident.

Daniel Taylor has masterfully taken on the vocal inflections of the late Beatle in the musical/play Lennon: Through a Glass Onion, which comes to Club Soda on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

Taylor — a Liverpudlian, like Lennon — has the late Beatle’s look and mannerisms down pat, too. So much so that the hair stands up on the neck of many a patron who catches the show. The resemblance, physically and vocally, is that uncanny.

Lennon: Through a Glass Onion has bowled over audiences in the U.S. and the U.K. The Club Soda date marks the show’s Canadian debut, before it moves on to cities including Toronto and Vancouver. And that’s only fitting.

Lennon, who was murdered in New York 36 years ago, had a special connection with this city. In 1969, he and bride Yoko Ono conducted a Bed-In for Peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Joined at their bedside by Timothy Leary, Dick Gregory, Tommy Smothers and Petula Clark, among others, Lennon and Ono recorded Give Peace a Chance, their protest against the Vietnam War.

Through a Glass Onion was co-created by John Waters and Stewart D’Arrietta, who accompanies Taylor on keyboards and provides background vocals. Inspired by the Lennon tune Glass Onion, the presentation is based on a rather audacious and unique concept. It entails Lennon’s life flashing before him from the moment when Mark David Chapman began firing the bullets to the nanoseconds later when they struck Lennon as he and Ono were returning to their New York apartment.

“It is all sewn together, from John being a child, being a Beatle, being a resident in New York, being a lover of Yoko Ono and being a father for the second time,” D’Arrietta says in a phone interview from London. “These are all the issues that come into play in that brief moment.”

D’Arrietta insists it wasn’t hard for him and Waters to put together Through a Glass Onion, largely because Lennon’s tunes were so often autobiographical. The show features 31 tunes from the Lennon and Lennon/McCartney songbooks, including A Day in the Life, Nowhere Man, In My Life, Help!, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, Revolution, Working Class Hero, All You Need Is Love and the ever-haunting Imagine.

Taylor was only seven when Lennon was killed, but even then he had been well aware of the man’s legacy, particularly with their shared Liverpool connection.

“Although I was so young at the time, I could see even then how his death affected so many,” Taylor says. “It was one of those moments in time when people remembered where they were at the time he was killed.”

Interjects D’Arrietta: “Because I’m much older than Daniel, I do remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. I was in a recording studio in North Sydney (Australia). We were all so aghast. It was kind of the same thing remembering where we were when Princess Di and JFK were killed.”

It's only fitting that Montreal hosts the Canadian debut of Lennon: Through a Glass Onion, considering Lennon and Yoko Ono held their Bed-In for Peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in 1969.

It’s only fitting that Montreal hosts the Canadian debut of Lennon: Through a Glass Onion, considering John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their Bed-In for Peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in 1969.

From the audience’s perspective, it sounds like it’s effortless for Taylor to match Lennon’s voice, but he points out that there are at least 20 Liverpool accents and that it did require some work to replicate Lennon’s.

“John spoke in a sort of old-fashioned Liverpool way,” notes Taylor, a singer-songwriter in his own right. “You actually don’t hear much of that accent these days in Liverpool. I did a lot of listening to him to get the accent down.”

Filling the role of Lennon required more than finding a look-alike and sound-alike.

“The problem of casting the role was that there were a lot of parameters around it,” D’Arrietta says. “In addition to sounding and looking like Lennon, we needed someone who was able to play guitar, to sing and to have somewhat of a personality likeness to his character. We were very lucky finding Danny, who fulfilled all those parts.”

“I love Lennon’s music, and his music had a great influence on me, but I love all kinds of music — it just depends what kind of bipolar state I’m in at the time,” Taylor cracks.

D’Arrietta hasn’t heard any comments about Through a Glass Onion from Ringo Starr or Paul McCartney, neither of whom have seen the show to his knowledge. 

“This show is not about Paul,” D’Arrietta says. “And Ringo … well, he’s off on his own journey.”

He also hasn’t heard of Ono seeing Through a Glass Onion. “Really, the show does open with gunshots. And for her having lived through that, with her husband being killed in front of her, you don’t want to relive that. But when we were doing the show in New York, John Waters was sent a postcard from Yoko saying only: ‘Dear John. Love Yoko.’ A person of few words.”

A description that had rarely been applied to her husband.

AT A GLANCE

Lennon: Through a Glass Onion is presented Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. at Club Soda, 1225 St-Laurent Blvd. Tickets cost $42.50. Call 514-286-1010 or visit clubsoda.ca.

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Shout-outs: Kudos to Comedy Nest proprietors David Acer and Phil Shuchat. Their venue has made it onto the Australian website Traveller.com.au’s list of the top 10 comedy clubs around the world. The Nest placed third, just behind L.A.’s Comedy Store and New York City’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

And kudos to rocksteady CHOM announcer Sharon Hyland, who celebrates her 20th anniversary with the station on Thursday, Oct. 20.

bbrownstein@postmedia.com

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