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12 July 1961 |
Kensington, Liverpool, Merseyside, England, UK
|Occupation||Actor, director, composer, dramatist, producer|
Mark McGann (born 12 July 1961) is an English actor, director and musician.
Mark McGann is one of the four McGann Brothers, an acting family who first came to public attention in the early 1980s due to various successes achieved in Theatre, Film and TV in the UK.
First recognised in 1979 as a young actor of great promise by Youth Theatre leader Roger Hill and artistic director Ken Campbell during the Everyman Theatre Liverpool, Mark subsequenty appeared for Campbell in minor speaking roles in various productions during the Everyman 1979-80 season, including the 60s extravaganza The Warp by Neil Oram which starred Jim Broadbent and Neil Cunningham; Disco Queen and The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward by Camilla Saunders in which McGann sang the accompanying score along with a young Holly Johnson. During one particular performance of The Warp, the band onstage were required to perform 'Revolution' by the Beatles, something for which McGann was required to don a long wig and glasses. On seeing and hearing this performance and being moved by the actor's uncanny characterisation of John Lennon, Campbell decided to write a show about the Beatle to be performed at the Everyman the following year. A script was duly written but shelved due to a feeling by Campbell himself that the ending was unsatisfactory. Within a few months however, John Lennon was to be assassinated outside the Dakota in New York City and the Everyman Theatre Liverpool, a theatre very much within the familiar old stomping ground of Lennon himself, suddenly had the ending to its story about the flawed Liverpudlian genius.
Campbell stepped down as AD with the Everyman in summer 1981 to be succeeded by Bob Eaton who was the former artistic director of Contact Theatre Manchester. Campbell presented Eaton with the idea and draft of his Lennon script and suggested that he might like to include it as part of his 1981-82 season. He suggested that Eaton should look no further than McGann for the lead role. Bob Eaton proceeded to rewrite the script and called it simply Lennon with McGann cast in the role of the young John. It opened at the Everyman to great acclaim in September 1981 and quickly sold out before being extended by several weeks due to demand. This production transferred to Broadway and then the West End for a successful 10-month run at the Astoria Theatre in 1985 where it was directed by Clare Venables, winning McGann his first of two Olivier Award nominations for best Actor in a West End production. McGann was then cast by Yoko Ono to play John in the film John & Yoko: A love story for NBC in late 1985.
During these first five years as a professional, McGann appeared in numerous productions for the Everyman (1984, Blood Red Roses) BBC (Moving On The Edge with Eleanor Bron) Granada (Recording Studio with Peter Howitt and Robert Stephens) TV and in independent film No Surrender by Alan Bleasdale starring Joanne Whalley, Bernard Hill and Michael Angelis. In 1982 he appeared with his three brothers for the first time in Yakety Yak, a musical by Rob Walker-based around the songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller which also starred The Darts and which ran for 4 months at the Astoria Theare Charing Cross Rd. This led to the McGanns being offered their first recording contract with Chrysalis Records in 1982 and the first single Shame About The Boy with Mark singing lead vocal released later that year. In 1983 he appeared as Mad Dog in Scully by Bleasdale with Elvis Costello and Cathy Tyson before returning to the theatre to play Mickey in Blood Brothers by Willy Russell opposite Peter Capaldi for the 1984 first major touring production for the Robert Stigwood Organisation.
Further high profile work followed including the opposite Tilda Swinton in the role of Verrezzi in the adaptation of Percy Bysshe Shelly's gothic horror Zastrozzi for C4 in 1986 and the as Glenda Jackson and John Thaw's son in the independent film Business As Usual. More roles followed in 1987-88 including most notably Gethin Pryce in Comedians by Trevor Griffiths at the New Vic London and Scott in Up On The Roof at the Apollo Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue for which McGann as musical director wrote the original composition in the show and also received his second Olivier Award Nomination for Best Actor in a West End Production.
In 1989, McGann was back on screen playing the lead role in German thriller Abducted which was filmed in 35mm black and white and set in Berlin during the 2nd World War and directed by Alexandra Von Grote at Babelsburg Studios. Two further high profile lead roles followed including as Detective Brady for Yorkshire TVs Yellowthread St, a Miami Vice type detective series which was entirely filmed on location in Hong Kong and as captain Keith Halliwell in the C4 series The Manageress with Warren Clarke. McGann returned to the theatre in 1990 to play the leading role in Mozart's Don Giovanni at Greenwich; Mosca in Ben Jonson's Volpone for Cambridge Theatre Company and in Killers at the Royal Court London directed by Ian Rickson.
In 1991-92 McGann was approached by director Peter Medak to play the role of Niven Craig in British Screen film Let Him Have It. Following various TV appearances including leading roles in Crime Story for Granada TV and Murder Most Horrid for BBC McGann returned to the stage to appear as 'Upright' at the National Theatre in On The Ledge and then as Shakespeare's Macbeth at the New Wimbledon Theatre production of the same name.
In 1994 Mark appeared opposite Catherine Zeta Jones as Gregory Orlov in the film Catherine the Great before travelling to Ireland to film for the role of 'Conor Phelan' in The Hanging Gale a BBC drama set against the backdrop of the Irish Potato Famine of 1846 which was co-produced by McGann, his three brothers, Irish Production Company Little Bird and the BBC. Further screen work followed including as Jimenez in C4 film Pleasure and as Mahal in Samson and Delilah where he was directed by Nic Roeg. In 1997-98 McGann played Marcus Bannerman, the charismatic machiavellian owner of the eponymous hotel for two seasons of The Grand for Granada TV, the World War I era drama series by Russell T. Davies. He appeared on TV again as Joseph Bazalgette' the great Victorian industrial engineer in the award winning factual drama/doc Seven Great Industrial Wonders of the World in 2001; as 'Tom Crean' the Irish companion of Ernest Shackleton in Shackleton opposite Kenneth Branagh for C4 also in 2001; as Commander Rosenthal in The Hindenburg for C4 2006 and as the chilling psychopath Norris in Endgame, a UK Independent film made on location in London and Wales in 2003.
Mark is also an accomplished theatre Director who has directed productions at various theatres including new plays by South African writer Peter Krummeck and English writers Colin Swash and Neil A. Edwards for the Oval Theatre, London, Andover Lights Theatre, Hampshire and Greenwich Theatre London respectively. McGann also runs his own creative company Drama Direct Ltd offering a wide variety of creative and professional development projects to actors, directors and writers.
Music and Writing
McGann was singing in public from an early age. His first major performance was as a 10 year old with older brother Paul aged singing Mozart's Laudate Dominum with the 300 strong choir the Puerti Cantores at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in 1972.
McGann is also an accomplished singer-songwriter who has written many original compositions including the songs A Heartbeat Away, Feuding Family Band and And Then You'll Walk Away which featured on the album The McGanns recorded with brothers Joe and Steve for Coalition/Warner Bros in 1999. He also wrote the original tracks "Believe" and "With A Smile in My Heart" as B sides for the two singles released from the album (A sides were A Heartbeat Away and Just My Imagination). This was McGann's second commercial recording contract with his brothers following the collaboration with Chrysalis Records in 1982-83 which produced the single "Shame About The Boy" which featured Mark on lead vocal. McGann was also musical director and original composer for hit West End production "Up On The Roof" at the Apollo Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue in 1987. He plays guitar and piano.
Since 2008 McGann has frequently appeared in the UK, Ireland, Finland and China as a lead vocalist and narrator with various symphony orchestras including The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, RTE Dublin, Northern Sinfonia and Birmingham Symphony Orchestra performing two shows, "The John Lennon Songbook" and "Two Of Us" which he co-wrote with Bob Eaton and directed. He recently wrote and directed the musical "Backstories" for the Merton Music Foundation which premiered at the Royal Albert Hall in 2015 with a cast of 3 actors, 4 orchestras and 1000 strong choir.
McGann annually produces and stars in his own production called "In My Life" which features 6 musicians from Gothenburg, Sweden known as Pepperland. This fully scripted concert tells the birth to death story of John Lennon using the uniquely autobiographical compositions of Lennon to create a powerful performance that has received the backing and endorsements of many who knew John including his son Julian. It is performed with the permission of Yoko Ono.
'It's always a comfort to know that Dad's words and music are in the hands of an artist such as Mark McGann. His performances as my father over the years have done as much as anyone to keep alive his lasting legacy and universal messages of Give Peace A Chance and Love Is All You Need. The John Lennon Songbook is impressive and refreshing. It combines theatre, history and orchestral arrangements of songs I grew up with in such a way as to re-present them as familiar yet totally different. A must see for all admirers of Dad and the Beatles.' Julian Lennon
A little known fact about McGann is that when making the film John & Yoko A Love Story for NBC, he was required to re-record all the original music in the film, some 40 compositions of Lennon and the Beatles, for the DVD release. This was never spotted by any subsequent reviewer illustrating McGann's uncanny knack of capturing his subject's unique character.
Drama Direct Ltd
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In 2007 McGann formed Drama Direct Ltd to serve as an inspiration for creatives of all ages and backgrounds. Essentially an independent production and educational company, it provides high quality training to artists and educators in Theatre and Film performance through McGann's own exciting and original Screen, Stage, Directorial and Writer's workshops and courses, all designed to guarantee the continued pursuit of Mark's lifelong fascination and passion for the process of acting, helping others to discover, develop and increase their appreciation of this mercurial art in various mediums for further professional and personal development.
As well as producing live commercial productions like In My Life for the Royal Court and the Philharmonic Hall Liverpool, Drama Direct has produced and delivered numerous original major multi-media productions and projects including the theatre based multi-media "The Gadly Project" about the life and Death of philosopher Socrates for London Borough of Barnet in 2009; The film "The Legend Of Spottee's Cave" for Sunderland City Council (Nominated for an Arts & Culture Award for Best Programme and Arts & Culture Award for Best Educational production) in 2011 and also an ambitious two week theatre based multi-media 14-19 Diploma Creative and Media work experience module.
In My Life