New John Lennon stage show featuring The Beatles’ ex-drummer backs Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field project
The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field project has officially been announced as the charity partner of a highly anticipated stage show called Lennon’s Banjo that gets its world premiere in Liverpool this April and features ex-Beatle drummer Pete Best in three special performances.
The production is about the search for John Lennon’s missing childhood banjo and its two-week run will raise funds to support the church and charity to redevelop Strawberry Field —the former Salvation Army children’s home that John Lennon used to visit as a child and which also played a vital part in Lennon’s formative years; inspiring The Beatles’ 1967 smash hit single Strawberry Fields Forever.
Lennon’s Banjo opens at the Epstein Theatre, Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ on Tuesday, 24 April and runs until Saturday, 5 May.
Tickets are on sale now, priced at £16 and at the end of each performance, audience members will get the chance to donate towards The Salvation Army’s visionary project to redevelop Strawberry Field into a training hub for young people with learning disabilities.
Demolition work has in fact already started to redevelop Strawberry Field, with the final vision resulting in a visitor centre, cafe and public gardens operating alongside the training hub.
Set in present day Liverpool and directed by Mark Heller, ellHLennon’s Banjo is based on the 2012 novel Julia’s Banjo, written by Rob Fennah and Helen A Jones. A mix of fact and fiction it portrays the quest for the holy grail of pop memorabilia; the missing banjo on which John Lennon was first taught to play music by his mother Julia Lennon, who first introduced the youngster to rock and roll.
The Beatles’ original drummer Pete Best will appear as himself in three performances. Pete will appear in the 2.30pm and 7.30pm shows on Wednesday 25 April, and the 7.30pm show on Saturday 5 May. Alan Stocks will portray Pete Best in all other performances during the two-week run.
Major Drew McCombe, Divisional Leader for The Salvation Army, North West, said: “Everybody knows the song Strawberry Fields Forever – but few people know the story behind the song. John had a troubled childhood and for him, Strawberry Field was a place of peace, refuge and a quiet spot where he could climb trees and dream his dreams. He used to jump over the wall into the Strawberry Field grounds, where he would play with the children who lived there and listen to The Salvation Army band.
“Our public fundraising campaign has a target of £2million to ensure our vision becomes a reality. Strawberry Field has the potential to change the lives of young people with learning disabilities who find it difficult to find gainful employment. It is a social injustice that they do not have the opportunities that others have – and we want to change that.
“Our aim now is to weave together educational, cultural, heritage and spiritual exploration in one bold imaginative plan. Visitors will be able to go beyond the famous red gates for the very first time and enjoy the new authentic exhibition, have lunch in the restaurant and relax in the tranquil gardens. We are very grateful that we’ve been chosen as the official charity partner for Lennon’s Banjo, and we wish the show every success.”
Co-producer Bill Elms said: “We are delighted to be supporting the work of The Salvation Army and its inspiring Strawberry Field project. The play centres around John Lennon’s very first instrument, which played a vital role in shaping his musical talent. Equally, Strawberry Field played a huge role in developing John’s creativity and imagination, so we are thrilled that Lennon’s Banjo can give something back to something which meant so much to John.”
Lennon’s Banjo has been brought to the stage by the following members of Fab Four Production Partners; The Cavern Club Liverpool, The Beatles Story, Hard Days Night Hotel, and The Beatles Shop.
Tuesday 24 April – Saturday 5 May 2018. Preview Performance 24th April – all seats £16. Group rates available
Epstein Theatre Liverpool, Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ. Telephone 0844 888 4411 www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk
Ticket quarter online, Echo Arena Box Office, Kings Dock, Liverpool, L3 4FP 4FP www.ticketquarter.co.uk