It began just down the street from the Dakota, in Billie Holiday’s old music studio, which was then home to Theatre Within, an experimental theater workshop. A small group of performing artists and their friends were drawn together by John Lennon’s senseless murder. An emotional evening of song, dance and theater, that first gathering was an instinctive outpouring of sorrow and grief. Since then, the event has transformed into a joyful celebration of the life, music and creative spirit of John Lennon.

Theatre Within’s Annual John Lennon Tribute is now recognized as the longest running Lennon tribute show in the world. It is the only ongoing Lennon tribute show in New York City and the only ongoing Lennon tribute show to have earned the support of Yoko Ono.

Created in 1981 by Theatre Within founder, Alec Rubin, and his then student Joe Raiola, each year’s Tribute brings together an enormously talented and diverse group of musicians, dancers and other performing artists.

For 20 years the show was directed by Mr. Rubin and produced by Mr. Raiola. When Mr. Raiola took over as Producing Director in 2001, he turned the Tribute into a charity benefit.
Upon hearing of the show for the first time in 2004, Yoko Ono invited Mr. Raiola to contribute to her book, Memories of John Lennon.

In 2005, the Silver Anniversary of the Annual John Lennon Tribute was celebrated at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Guests included singer-songwriters Cliff Eberhardt, Jen Chapin and then newcomer, Anais Mitchell.

From 2006-2008, the Tribute was held at the Ailey Citigroup Theatre and featured such notable performers as Rosanne Cash, Steve Forbert, Marshall Crenshaw and Michelle Shocked.

In 2008, the show was a benefit for World Hunger Year (WHY). By bringing WHY together with Yoko Ono, Theatre Within played an important role in helping launch the “Imagine There’s No’s Hunger” Global Initiative which raised one million dollars to fight hunger and poverty around the world.

Theatre Within will present its 29th Annual John Lennon Tribute on Friday, December 4 at Symphony Space in New York City. Confirmed performers span nearly four generations, ranging from legendary vocalist, Bettye LaVette, to Across The Universe’s, Dana Fuchs, plus acclaimed artists, Joan Osborne, David Bromberg, Dan Bern, Lucy Kaplansky, Nicole Atkins, Sonya Kitchell, Rich Pagano of the Fab Faux, The Kennedys, web sensation Chris Bliss, and Wendy Osserman Dance.

Empowered by the overwhelming interest in the newly remastered Beatles catalogue and the debut of “Beatles: Rock Band,” this year’s Tribute will be the largest in its colorful history. The Annual John Lennon Tribute, the longest running event of its kind and the only ongoing Lennon Tribute show to have earned the support of Yoko Ono, was established in 1981 shortly after Lennon’s death. Continuing in its tradition of raising money for children’s charities, proceeds from this year’s Tribute will support the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF.)

“It’s tremendously gratifying to bring together such a talented and diverse group of performing artists to celebrate John Lennon,” noted the Tribute’s creator, Joe Raiola, who will be performing in the show himself for the 29th consecutive year. “I remember in the early days it was such a sad event, but over time it’s transformed into a joyful celebration – not just of John, but of the ideals for a better world that meant so much to him.”

Theatre Within recently launched, a robust website dedicated to the event, featuring performer photos, videos from past Tributes, updates and original exclusive content for John Lennon fans everywhere.


Theatre Within is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit Performing Arts Presenter dedicated to producing benefit shows for outstanding charities and important social causes. By promoting the performing arts as public service, Theatre Within brings artists together to make a positive difference in their communities and around the world. Theatre Within is inspired by the humanitarian efforts of George Harrison, John Lennon, Arlo Guthrie, Willie Nelson, Bono and countless other socially- conscious performers who have been the driving force behind charity events.


Founded in 1996, UMDF works to promote research and education for the diagnosis, treatment and cure of mitochondrial diseases and to provide support for affected individuals and families. Since its inception, the UMDF has funded more than $6 million in research, making it the leading non-governmental contributor of grants focused solely on mitochondrial disease. The UMDF, based in Pittsburgh, PA., is a national organization, represented by 65 chapters, groups and ambassadors around the United States and thousands of members who participate in groups and as ambassadors around the world. For more information about mitochondrial disease, visit


A Benefit for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF)
Starring: Nicole Atkins, Dan Bern, Chris Bliss, David Bromberg, Dana Fuchs, Lucy Kaplansky, The Kennedys, Bettye LaVette, Joan Osborne, Rich Pagano, Joe Raiola, Wendy Osserman Dance

Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway (at 95 Street)
Friday, December 4, 2009 @ 7:30pm
Tickets $70, $55, $40 here
Available online at, by phone at 212-864-5400 or at the Symphony Space box office.
Media Contact: Joe Raiola [email protected] 212-560-2552