Entertainment Hive 2018

John O’Hara in Dedications

By Honey B

Watch out ladies, the “Love God’’ is about to hit town for the 2015 Adelaide Cabaret Festival. John O’Hara will step up to the mic to serenade Cabaret-goers in his show, Dedications (June 6-8). The musical theatre stalwart (Cats, Rock of Ages, Dusty) was a Love Songs and Dedications fan and is looking forward to paying homage to radio announcer Richard Mercer’s long-running radio programme. “I listened to Richard Mercer’s radio show for many years but it wasn’t until I was doing a musical in Melbourne a few years ago when I really started to think about the callers,’’ O’Hara explains. “I would drive home from the theatre at around the same time every night – and it was a long drive – so I would hear the regulars call in every night. “It just kind of dawned on me – what kind of people keep ringing in? “These people would call Richard and talk about their relationships and if they were going well or not. “It was just this big and amazing cross- section of people – some were deluded and some had big, beautiful and tragic stories.’’ The seeds for a one-man show started to germinate in O’Hara’s mind and it wasn’t long before he’d teamed with co-writer Anthony Harkin and musical director Luke Hunter to create Dedications. “It was just such an incredible idea for a one-man show. I could use all of these incredible songs that we all know and love – whether we want to admit it or not. “I didn’t even need to make up any stories – although we have put our own flavour on the show and there are bit of my own relationships in there. “It was important to me to put that bit of myself in there and it is a bit close to home.’’ O’Hara admits that some of the stories in the show make him cry and there are others that just make him laugh. “Oh it’s a challenge to get through the show at the moment without crying. “There is one character and he’s a writer and he has had this one true love from when he was young, but she was from a different culture. When her father found out he sent her away and he still hasn’t moved on after 20 years. “He felt love and that was enough. It’s so heartbreaking. “On the flipside there was this woman who would ring in and dedicate songs to her partner, her gay lover who was this interior designer. She was kind of inappropriate about it and there was this full on innuendo and I would just sit in the car and laugh my guts out.’’ Mercer’s romantic radio show was broadcast for 17 years and lately a new crop of dulcet-toned celebrities have been hitting the airwaves with easy-listening programs. “Oh it’s a popular genre, the smooth listening shows. Keith Urban does one and so does David Campbell and Tina Arena. “Richard Mercer hosts a show called Your Song now, I think it’s played in Sydney. “We told him about Dedications and he was really supportive of it and surprised that anyone would want to make a theatre show out of his radio show. But he gave us his blessing. “We are paying homage to his show and we are inspired by it and his legacy – there’s some funny parts in the show and also some really beautiful moments.’’ O’Hara is certain audiences will love the songs – even if they might not want to admit it at first. “Once I started putting the show together I found that these well-known songs actually had some quite poetic, poignant and beautiful lyrics. “You will hear these songs in a different way. Songs by Bon Jovi, Whitney Houston, Belinda Carlisle and there’s even a bit of Taylor Swift in there as well. “And how can you go past Michael Bolton’s How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?’’ O’Hara says debuting Dedications at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival is a “career-defining moment’. “We will be performing at the Variety Gala which will be crazy and exciting. “There is such a buzz about Adelaide and everyone wants to perform at the Cabaret Festival in Adelaide. It’s amazing and having Barry Humphries there is exciting.’’ John O’Hara in Dedications, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Artspace, June 6 to 8. Bookings: BASS 131 246
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