In My Life:  The John Lennon Tribute
Starring Carlo Cantamessa

The music of John Lennon has flooded the airways for over five decades.  Lennon was first known as one of The Beatles, the most critically acclaimed group in pop music history, and then as a solo artist and anti-war activist.  Lennon and fellow Beatle Paul McCartney formed one of the most successful songwriting partnerships of the 20th century. 

The Beatles are the best-selling band in the history of popular music, and have sold more albums than any other artists.  They had more number one albums on the charts than any other recording artists, and received seven Grammy’s during their decade:  the 60’s.  Even to this day their recordings are in great demand.   
Lennon’s solo albums sold over 14 million units and he was responsible, both singly and in partnership, for 25 number-one singles on world-wide charts.  Rolling Stone heralded him has the 5th greatest singer of all-time; he 
was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Imagine spending a night with John Lennon, while he plays his acoustic guitar, tells stories about the background behind the songs, and relives the music that defined a generation. That is ... In My Life:  The John Lennon Tribute.  

Faithfully recreated by Carlo Cantamessa, who has portrayed the role of John Lennon in BEATLEMANIA shows for 30 years.  All live, with complete audience interaction and with the personal touch that makes each show a unique performance ...  In My Life:  The John Lennon Tribute, is the closest you can get to the legend.

It will seem to you as if John Lennon the iconic singer-songwriter, the tumultuous leader of a pop-rock, flower-power generation:  the man – the idol – the star, is on stage again.  Resurrected respectfully by Carlo Canamessa 
as he breathes new life into the legendary lyrics penned and sung by a master, the memories of Lennon the Legend will flood the mind and touch the soul. In My Life:  The John Lennon Tribute is a do-not-miss experience.

A look at a Lennon tribute that is unique
Steve Marinucci, Beatles Examiner
December 10, 2011 
Charles F. Rosenay submitted to Beatles Examiner

Introduction: Beatles fans know Charles F. Rosenay, Horror Happenings Examiner and one of the biggest Beatles fans on the planet. Here's an enthusiastic review he sent to us of Carlo Cantamassa's portrayal of John Lennon in a one-man show.  

Review: "In My Life: A John Lennon Tribute" by Charles F. Rosenay

(Performed by Carlo Cantamassa Nov. 26 at the Warner Theatre in Warrington, Conn.)

Picture yourself sitting in a living room with just John Lennon and his guitar. Maybe a few friends around. He’s playing songs, telling stories, cracking jokes, poking fun at himself but never at the music or songs. 

It’s a dream that could never come true, but it comes very close with Carlo Cantamessa’s “In My Life: The John Lennon Tribute.”

I must preface this review by saying that I’ve known Carlo peripherally since he started portraying John close to 30 years ago. As many readers may know, I’ve seen countless Beatles tribute bands since the 70s (and Lennon tributes since the 80s), and I’ve done my share of booking these acts at conventions, concerts, clubs and events through the years.

Last year I even produced “Imagine 70,” a series of concerts with Peter Gendron leading a band called “Lennon-Live.” There have been many too many fine shows and excellent impersonators to count. Most of these productions feature a soundalike or lookalike leading a band, often in a concert that “John Lennon might have done if he were still alive.” I thoroughly love these type of shows, and it always fascinates me seeing such tributes.

I love it even more when there’s a fresh twist or different take on the old tried and true. It’s unlikely John would have ever performed for a crowd just by himself with guitar, which makes Carlo’s show so unique. His intimate solo performance relies as much on his stories, anecdotes, humor and personality as the songs themselves. In doing so, Carlo brings the audience into Lennon’s world and his own. This “storyteller” presentation is a breath of fresh air for not just casual fans looking to enjoy an evening of John’s music, but also for die-hards tired of the “clone” show and itching for a nice dose of entertainment mixed in with enlightenment.

One of the most surprising aspects of the performance is Carlo’s vast knowledge of Lennon’s legacy. Unlike some sports figures who don’t know the history of their sport or the heroes that preceded them, and unlike some of the tribute acts who just do what they do to make a buck off their likeness of a star, Carlo’s show makes it perfectly clear how much of a Lennon fan he is and how well-read he is on his subject. He presents the in-between song chatter in a relaxed, funny and intelligent way. 

Actually, with his excellent vocabulary and likable delivery, the audience is not only experiencing a concert, they’re getting a master’s class in Lennon.

During the course of the evening, we are reminded which songs were influenced by Buddy Holly, Elvis, Wilson Pickett and even Mia Farrow’s sister. We hear how come of John’s chord structures echo his influences, and how some of his earlier songs bear great similarities to his later work. 

And not all the stories are about The Beatles or Lennon; many are Carlo’s personal anecdotes. He talks about meeting Cynthia Lennon and her telling him which song she deserved credit for, about playing at conventions, and his personal experiences portraying John in "The Cast" of Beatlemania all these years.

In “The Cast,” Carlo has surrounded himself with some of the best musicians in the business, including Lenie Colacino, who was one of the original Paul McCartneys in Broadway’s “Beatlemania” from 1977-1984. Lenie and Glen Burtnik are believed to be the first true lefty McCartneys in the show, though Mitch Weissman tried playing lefty as much as possible. “The Cast’ rank among the finest and most-respected Beatlemania touring groups, and much of the credit must go to Carlo for not only handling the Lennon vocals and rhythm guitar, but also acting as the act’s manager.

In “In My Life: The John Lennon Tribute,” he goes miles beyond just doing the rhythm parts. Putting the songs across as a solo performer, he plays leads, multiple parts, and even jumps on the keyboards for a few numbers, all the time keeping the audience enthralled with Lennon’s vocals and banter. On the night I saw him, he had the crowd singing along, and captivated by his every word.

I always knew Carlo was a top-notch “Lennon,” I just never saw this side of him. And I loved every second of it. From the first notes of “Misery” and “I’ll Get You” through “Help” and “Dear Prudence” and “right up to the “Double Fantasy” and “Milk & Honey” solo tracks, the musical highlights are all covered. And covered well. Perhaps the only thing missing for a true aficionado is a more obscure offering such as “Leave My Kitten Alone” or even a seldom-played “Free As a Bird.” 

But that wouldn’t necessarily be what would appeal to the masses, and this show is definitely ideal for all audiences. Proof of Carlo’s astuteness to pleasing all audience members is when he does “Working Class Hero.” It’s as close to perfection as you could get, except for a certain word we all know that Carlo replaces with “frickin” – and he discusses it with the audience first, telling them that his wife cajoled him into cleaning up the song. With the explanation and the spot-on rendition, it’s the right move.

Whereas fans could see Beatlemania groups all over the place, it’s rare to see such a unique night of sheer entertainment which delivers on so many levels. When fans discuss the most famous Lennons through the years, so many names to mind: Gary Gibson, the late Mark “Farquar” Vacacio, Mark Benson, David Leon, Joe Pecorino, Randy Clark, Joe Stefano, Mark McGann, Steve Landes, Ron McNeil, Peter George, Neil Harrison, Bob Graham, Mark Staycer, Don Bellezzo, Steve Craig, Piper, Gendon. 

The problem with listing some is omitting so many other fine ones. If any of these names deserve a place in the Lennon Impersonators Hall of Fame, Carlo Cantamessa certainly ranks as a first-ballot candidate.

Clearly, theaters would sooner book a Beatles tribute show than a Lennon solo show, so who knows if or when Carlo Cantamessa’s “In My Life: The John Lennon Tribute” comes to your town. 

If it does, though, don’t miss it. It’s hard not to like an evening of Lennon music, no matter who is playing it, but with this show I loved every second of it.

Sean Casey - Ellicott City, MD
Vincent Mitchell - Tarpon Springs, FL
Mary James - Internet Services
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