“The very first tune I ever learned to play was “That’ll Be The Day”. My mother Julia taught it to me on the banjo, sitting there with endless patience until I managed to work out all the chords.”
A further three actors have been confirmed to join the cast of Lennon’s Banjo, which makes its world stage premiere at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre in April.
Mark Moraghan, Stephanie Dooley and Alan Stocks join fellow actors Eric Potts, Jake Abraham, Lynn Francis and Roy Carruthers in a comedy play that is already making headlines around the world.
The cast includes former Beatles’ drummer Pete Best, who will play himself during three special performances of the show’s two-week run.
Produced by Pulse Records Ltd. in association with Bill Elms, Lennonâ€™s Banjo opens at the Epstein Theatre on Tuesday 24th April, continuing through until Saturday 5th May. Tickets are on sale now.
Lennon’s Banjo is written by Rob Fennah, who will also co-produce the show. No stranger to theatre, Fennah wrote the stage play adaptation of Helen Forrester’s Twopence to Cross the Mersey which has enjoyed success spanning 20 years.
The show is about a quest to find the holy grail of pop memorabilia – the first instrument John Lennon learned to play, which has been missing for 60 years and is now worth millions to whoever finds it.
Set in present day Liverpool, Lennon’s Banjo is based on the 2012 novel Julia’s Banjo written by Rob Fennah and Helen A. Jones. The production will be directed by Mark Heller.
Mark Moraghan is widely known for his television roles in Holby City, Brookside, and most recently in Coronation Street and Emmerdale. He will play Joe. Theatre credits include Twopence to Cross the Mersey, You’ll Never Walk Alone, One Night In Istanbul, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, My Fair Lady, and Macbeth. He has also appeared on Celebrity Masterchef, and is the narrator of children’s television show Thomas the Tank Engine.
Actress and singer Stephanie Dooley will play Cheryl. Her stage credits include the recent run of Rita Sue and Bob Too at the St. Helens Theatre Royal, and leading lady roles in pantomimes nationwide including Peter Pan, Snow White, Cinderella, Dick Whittington, and Jack and the Beanstalk. Stephanie’s television appearances have included Emmerdale, The Royal, and Casualty. She also appeared in recent feature films The Hunters Prayer and Name of the Game.
Appearing in the role of Sid is Alan Stocks. His television credits include Doctors, Moving On, Wire In The Blood, The Bill, and Heartbeat. A regular on the Liverpool theatre circuit, he has appeared in shows including Scouse of the Rising Sun, Night Collar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Streetcar Named Desire, Twelfth Night, Dirty Dusting, Tartuffe, and Flint Street Nativity.
Pete Best was The Beatles’ drummer between 1960 and 1962, playing more than 1,000 live performances including nightclubs and dance halls in both Liverpool and Hamburg. He recorded 27 songs as a Beatle, and he also played The Beatles’ very first show in Liverpool at the Casbah Coffee Club.
The ex-Beatle will appear as himself in Lennon’s Banjo in three performances – the 2.30pm and 7.30pm shows on Wednesday 25th April, and the 7.30pm show on Saturday 5th May.
It was John Lennon’s mother, Julia Lennon, who introduced him to the world of pop music, teaching him to play rock and roll on a banjo, given to her by John’s grandfather.
Lennon often recounted how he would sneak off to visit his mum, who lived only a few miles away. There, he would learn to play songs like “That’ll Be The Day”. He has been quoted as saying, “Mum would sit there with endless patience until I managed to work out all the chords.”
On 9th October 1957, a young John Lennon turned 17. It was the last birthday he would spend with his mother, Julia, who was killed the following summer in a road traffic accident. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Julia’s death and the banjo’s disappearance.
Mysteriously, the banjo went missing shortly after Julia’s death and no-one has set eyes on it since. One thing is certain though, if it did resurface it is estimated to be worth in the region of five million pounds.
Co-Producer Bill Elms commented, “We are very excited to announce a further three cast members to join the already strong line-up. Together, the cast along with special guest appearances from former Beatles’ drummer Pete Best, is going to make Lennon’s Banjo the show of 2018 you will not want to miss.”
So where do the facts end and the fiction begin? Everything will be revealed in this intriguing, colourful and fast-paced comic caper.
Lennon’s Banjo is delighted to be working with its Fab Four Production Partners who are The Cavern Club Liverpool, The Beatles Story, Hard Days Night Hotel, and The Beatles Shop.
Tickets for Lennon’s Banjo are on sale now.