LOVE SONG DEDICATIONS
PERTH musical theatre performer and Wicked cast member John O’Hara experienced mixed emotions when the show took its final bow here at the end of June.
Fortunately Perth audiences do not have to wait long to see the talented Melbourne-based WAAPA graduate on stage again, with his one-man cabaret show Dedications showing during a Downstairs at the Maj season from August 20 to 22.
The labour of love began a few years ago while the 35-year-old was starring in Rock of Ages opposite friend and fellow WAAPA alumni Anthony Harkin (Jersey Boys).
“As I would drive home from the theatre every night, there was a radio show called Love Song Dedications hosted by Richard Mercer,” O’Hara said.
“The basic premise was that people would ring in, talk to him about what was going on, whether it be a positive or negative experience in their relationship, and then dedicate a song.
“Sometimes I’d be shocked, heartbroken or laughing hysterically at the ridiculousness of the situation, but all in common were these people who felt like they needed to talk and they trusted this stranger.
“And then attached to that was this incredible catalogue of music that we all know and I think love, even if we’re not going to admit it.”
O’Hara had been searching for subject matter for a one-man show and soon realised he had found it, teaming up with Harkin as cowriter/director, Harkin’s partner and choreographer Melanie Hawkins and musical director Luke Hunter (Jersey Boys, Grease).
“We’re all very good friends and colleagues but it’s been a very different ball game working together in this capacity,” O’Hara said.
“I won’t lie, there have been a few tears, but it always ends in laughs and now we have this great show, so it’s all been worth it.”
The final product, which premiered at Adelaide Cabaret Festival earlier this year, features seven characters, men and women, aged 18 to 75, all inspired by people O’Hara heard on the radio.
“We could have just done a show where I sang a bunch of love songs but Anthony pushed that it had to be really character-driven,” he said.
“And then we went to the catalogue to find which song best represented the story, instead of just singing Celine Dion’s biggest hit.”
John O’Hara is bringing his one-man show to the Maj.