THEATRE NOVA PRESENTS THE WORLD PREMIERE OF
Mazel Tov, John Lennon
by David Wells
Public preview March 21
Opening night March 22, running through April 14, 2019
EXTENDED THROUGH SUNDAY, APRIL 21, 2019
January 1972: Vietnam war protests are at their peak, and newly ex-Beatled John Lennon walks into the office of Leon Wildes, an eminent immigration lawyer. As ultra-laid-back Lennon and straight-laced Wildes navigate Lennon’s stormy immigration case, an unlikely and comical kinship unfolds, and both men gain a greater understanding of friendship, personal values, and patriotism. Based on the true story of the Nixon administration's attempt to deport John Lennon.
Directed by Carla Milarch, Mazel Tov, John Lennon features Forrest Hejkal and Phil Powers. The production and design team includes Forrest Hejkal (scenic design), Daniel C. Walker (lighting design), Diane Hill (costume design), Carla Milarch (sound design), and Alona Shewach (stage manager, props).
‘Mazel Tov John Lennon’ takes us back to 1971, but echoes from today’s headlines
“Powers’ impassioned monologue about government abusing its power through immigration law and hurting families is masterfully played. It brought sniffles from the opening night audience... Hejkal’s portrayal of the affable Lennon at a time in his life when he’s outgrown music super-stardom and is eager to promote high ideals is so spot-on that it’s easy to forget you’re not watching the Beatle himself. Period furnishings, clothing, and media set the simple stage of Wildes’ law office well. Snippets of some of Lennon’s most beloved songs, “Give Peace a Chance,” “Revolution” and “Imagine” bring back memories of the “peacenik” movement. From 1971 to 2019, Mazel Tov John Lennon is both compelling and makes today’s headlines echo in our heads with the currency of history and the story of a cultural icon."
PULP: Arts Around Ann Arbor Review
THEATRE NOVA’S "MAZEL TOV, JOHN LENNON" ENGAGES WITH AN ODD COUPLE TRUE STORY
“[David] Wells uses humor and outrage with equal skill ...to contrast the famously snarky, quick-witted Lennon with the decent but stolid Wildes. Director Carla Milarch finds the right balance between the inherent comedy and the deeper, darker issues at hand. Most importantly, she gets excellent portrayals from her two-person cast. Phil Powers gives a bravura performance as Wildes. His timing and bewildered facial expressions capture Wildes lack of savvy about the world beyond the law that he cherishes. [Forrest] Hejkal resembles Lennon, and he has that easy slouch. But more important, Hejkal does an excellent job of catching Lennon’s shifting moods. He also portrays Lennon’s warmth, sharp wit, and basic decency as he relates the pain of his youth and a growing rift with Yoko."
Arts at Michigan
REVIEW: Mazel Tov, John Lennon
“The intimate environment and the ability to see the actors facial expressions and eyes so closely made the viewing experience really unique.
This play was extremely well-written. The author did a great job showing John Lennon’s humor while also showing his deep philosophical curiosity and capacity to be poetic. I want to shake the writer’s hand for writing such a fantastic script. There were some great plot points that kept the play interesting and engaging. The dynamic relationship between the lawyer, who was a total square, and John Lennon was fantastic. "
Detroit Jewish News
‘Mazel Tov, John Lennon’: A Real-Life Drama
“Ann Arbor playwright David Wells’ work brings John Lennon’s deportation case to the stage. David Wells, an Ann Arbor playwright, read the book John Lennon vs. the U.S.A. and became fascinated by Lennon’s 1970s immigration battle. He decided the story and its relevance to current issues merited theatrical attention. Research prompted a meeting with Michael Wildes, son of the book’s New York author Leon Wildes, who represented the famous Beatle confronting deportation. The Wells-Wildes conversations about the case and the friendship between the senior attorney and Lennon yielded a two-person play, Mazel Tov, John Lennon."