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Gary Younge
Ballad of John and Yoko hits all the wrong notes with critics

A new Broadway musical about John Lennon has been panned by everyone - apart from his widow, Yoko Ono, who was closely involved in the production.

"I think he would be jumping up and down," said Ono, 72, "I think he would have loved it."

But with virtual unanimity the critics disagreed. The New York Daily News described Lennon as "so goofy that someone arriving late might imagine he had stumbled into [Monty Python's] Spamalot next door. The New York Times bemoaned its "fortune-cookie wisdom" which produced a "drippy version of [Lennon's] life, written and directed with equal clunkiness." Variety said the score sounded "unfinished in a sad and rather ghoulish way".

The discrepancy in views is hardly surprising given one critic's belief that a key flaw in the production is that it is "Ono-centric". Passing quickly over Lennon's career in the Beatles, it gives little time to his first marriage, or to the son he fathered before he met the Japanese artist. It also omits his affair that forced the couple apart for more than a year.

Meanwhile, phrases such as "We're all one", "Love is the answer", and "Be real" are repeatedly projected on to the stage.

"Imagine there's no Beatles, imagine no iconic movies, no White Album, no poetry books, no drawings," wrote Linda Winer for Newsday. "Then imagine there's no son before Sean, no mistress named May Pang, no deep depression, nothing really serious with drugs."

The director, Don Scardino, who wrote the musical using Lennon's words, insists the show represents the musician's own view of his life.

"Looking back on his life you get to a certain point in the story and there is no story of John without Yoko," he told Reuters. "He was hurt when people didn't either embrace Yoko or his love for Yoko, but finally he didn't care."

When Ono went on stage for a curtain call on Sunday she was unrepentant. "People will say something so let them say it," she told the audience.

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