Saturday, May 17, 2014

Fringe Spotlight: Jon Peterson in HE WROTE GOOD SONGS

Broadway and West End veteran Jon Peterson brings his new one man show He Wrote Good Songs to the Hollywood Fringe Festival beginning June 8. It is the story of British actor/singer/songwriter & director Anthony Newley, who created a catalogue of unforgettable songs such as “Goldfinger,” “What Kind of Fool Am I?,” “Gonna Build a Mountain” and “The Candy Man.” 

Throughout the show, Peterson explores Newley’s highs and lows, his many loves, and the desperation of a man innately wise to the charade that is show business - a man possessed with too many talents. Written and performed by Peterson, it includes twenty of Newley’s incredible songs, driving home this tale of a show business legend. 

Here Jon tells us why he loves this story and why it’s perfect for the Fringe. Enjoy!

“I had been performing a show entitled Song Man Dance Man, which was a 90 minute one-man show about seven of the greats who did it all…Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, George M. Cohan, Sammy Davis Jr, Bobby Darin, Donald OConnor and Anthony Newley. The show told their stories, dealt with how their lives all connected and interwove, and there were 24 songs and dance numbers associated with them.

The response when I introduced Newley into the story was always so full of love that a show all about him seemed a natural progression. He was such an interesting man; a cockney, who gave scant regard to towing the line or sycophantic, show business behavior, yet his ebullience and charm drew everybody in, whether they were ‘in’ or ‘out’ of any elite circle. His huge talents for acting, singing and composing such standards as “Who Can I Turn To?,” “What Kind Of Fool Am I?” “and “Pure Imagination” made him an irresistible attraction to the powerful, the wannabes, and the many women who became part of his life.
He was famously married to Joan Collins in the sixties and seventies. They had children, as he had with other wives - and unknown partners - siring some undocumented children along the way. He’d been a fatherless child so he was perpetually creating or recreating family around him.

His impatience with ‘celebrity’ caused him to withdraw from those circles after short periods of time, and his need for expression made some of his work seem very off-the-wall and often down right pretentious. Within that body of work however you still see great songs emerge that have become standards to this day. Eventually his behavior pushed him into the periphery and into downward spirals of deep depression, and later cancer.

So, with his interesting story, character, and the amazing songs that easily help to further his plot, I think the Hollywood Fringe is a perfect beginning for this show that lets us revisit this man and his enigmatic world.

This is an 85-minute condensed (still working on that!) version to give a sense of what the show could become. It will be bare-bones. Any scenery or props will be up to the audience to create in their minds. The play is all about the story, the world I paint, and that amazing music to move us, especially as we see it in relation to Newley’s story. It’s as if he had been writing the score to his own life all along.”

June 8 (preview ) 13, 16, 21, 28, 2014
Theatre Asylum (Asylum Lab)
6320 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, 90038
Tickets: $10 ($1 for preview night)

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