From the classic 1969 album to the 1975 film, the 1993 musical and recurring concerts by band members through this very day, The Who’s “Tommy” is nothing short of a cross-cultural mainstay. And considering that widespread appeal throughout so many circles, it’s only fitting to find the stage version of the show kicking off the 2015 Broadway series at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora on the heels of a five time Tony Award winning running run (including “Best Original Score” and “Best Choreography”).
For longtime fans of any medium or younger audiences being introduced to The Who’s “Tommy” for the very first time, this latest technologically-savvy revival is sure to satiate (and possibly inspire some vinyl spins or Spotify searching, depending on the generation of course).
More than simply the tale of “that deaf, dumb and blind kid” who “sure plays a mean pinball,” chances are the musical’s held up over all these years and incarnations because of the Pete Townshend-penned soundtrack. Thankfully, all the classic rock cuts retain plenty of punch and muscle from a talented creative team, which includes lead actor Devin DeSantis (Drury Lane’s “Young Frankenstein”), Paramount Artistic Director Jim Corti (“Rent,” “Miss Saigon”), music director/conductor Tom Vendafreddo (“Mary Poppins”) and choreographer Brock Clawson (The Joffrey Ballet).
On opening night, hits like “Amazing Journey,” “Acid Queen” and “Pinball Wizard” sounded like they haven’t age a day as they propelled the story meant to invoke healing and redemption (even if Townshend personally admitted to plot problems, quite possibly a side effect of the psychedelic era during which it was conceived). But just because it’s a little abstract to follow a young boy who sees his father kill his mother’s other lover, isolate himself from the world through gaming and eventually earn almost messianic status over his record-setting scores doesn’t make later tunes like “I’m Free” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” any less desirable.
For longtime fans of any edition or younger audiences being introduced to The Who’s “Tommy” for the very first time, this latest technologically-savvy revival is sure to satiate (and possibly inspire some vinyl spins or Spotify searching, depending on the generation of course). Could the band’s “Quadrophenia” be next in the venue’s future production pool given this rock opera’s sturdy reception? It looks like “Les Miserables” lands subsequently in the Broadway series, but in the meantime, there are many more chances to hear, see and feel “Tommy” leap to life.
The Who’s “Tommy” continues at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora through February 15. For additional details, visit www.paramountaurora.com/events/tommy/.