Imagine: two new Lennon songs to be performed on Broadway

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Almost 25 years after John Lennon was shot dead outside his New York apartment, two of his unpublished songs are to be performed on Broadway in a show celebrating the life of the former Beatle.

Almost 25 years after John Lennon was shot dead outside his New York apartment, two of his unpublished songs are to be performed on Broadway in a show celebrating the life of the former Beatle.

Lennon's widow Yoko Ono said she had given permission to the producer Don Scardino to use the tracks in his forthcoming musical, Lennon, to open next spring. The tracks were written by Lennon in the late 1970s.

One of the tracks "India, India", recalls the Beatles' visit to India in 1968 where they spent time at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The second, "I Don't Want to Lose You", is a slow ballad, presumably dedicated to Ono.

In an interview with The Independent this year, Ono spoke of her efforts to protect Lennon's legacy. She said: "That's the responsibility he gave to me. I am honoured to do it, because we were partners and we are still partners."

But she said she had decided to allow Scardino to use the songs because she trusted him to produce them in a way she considered respectful. She told The New York Times: "They're very appropriate for the periods they are showing. People would say to me, 'What are you going to do about all of John's unreleased songs?' And I've always said: 'I will put them out, but I have to find ways to present them in the right way. For these songs, I thought the musical would be a very effective, beautiful way to do it."

The track "I Don't Want to Lose You" was among three Lennon songs offered to the surviving members of the Beatles in the mid-1990s when they "reunited" to produce the Beatles Anthology, Ono said.

The demonstration recording Lennon had made of the song was found to have an electronic hum on it which prevented the other three members from using it but they did take two other songs, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love". With the help of the former ELO frontman Jeff Lynne they dubbed their own, new parts on it. "Free as a Bird" reached number two in the UK charts in December, 1995, and "Real Love" reached number four.

Lennon was killed outside his apartment in New York's Upper West Side 24 years ago today at the age of 40 by disturbed fan Mark David Chapman. The attack was witnessed by Ono, who still lives in the same apartment, in the Dakota Building.

Scardino said the musical, featuring 27 of Lennon's songs including "Imagine", "Give Peace a Chance" and "Whatever Gets You Through the Night", will tell the story of Lennon's life as a musician, as well as his activism. "I was after something that was very theatrical and that would, for the audience, really bring forward the real, living idea of John Lennon," he told Playbill.com, a website devoted to theatre news.

He added: "The idea is basically as if an acting troupe walked on stage, unpacked their bags and said, 'Tonight, we do John Lennon' just like the players in Hamlet [say] here's The Murder of Gonzago. Well, here's the murder of John Lennon, [or] the life of John Lennon. Doing so, the actors on stage all take up his voice and his time and be another facet of that personality and basically make up the measure of the man in the process, through the course of the evening.

"He always seemed to be ahead of the curve. Or ... the curve followed him. He was such a leader for a certain generation, particularly, that he's emblematic of the times he came through."

The musical, with 10 actors portraying Lennon at various stages in his life backed by an 10-piece band, is to have its world premiere in San Francisco on 5 April then move to Boston. It is to open on Broadway in July.

Chapman, born in 1955, is still in Attica state penitentiary, New York. He has been refused parole three times, the latest time in October.

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