Western Suburbs Weekly - - Weeklylife - Tanya MacNaughton

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.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d439956

John O’Hara is bring­ing his one-man show to the Maj.

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