October 26, 2020

1972-02-24 – The Los Angeles Times

1972 02 24 The_Los_Angeles_Times_Thu__Feb_24__1972_ 3

MUSIC REVIEW
_ Another Version
of ths “Tommy’—

BY JOHN ROCKWELL'

Times Staff ertcr

The production of the Who‘s rock opera "Tom.
my" which opened at the Aquarius Theater Tues.-
day night will probably find sufficient audience to
keep it around for awhile.

There Will be some who will respond to the mo-
dicum of enerc. ' it manages to work up at the end.
Others Will welcome it as a nonthreateningibridge
between musicals and hard rock. And still others,
young er, may be thrilled simply by the notion that
somebody has taken the trouble to embody "their"
music in a stage production.

Still, it should and could have had so much more
life and imagination.

That ”Tommy" 18 itself a masterpiece of the rock
opera genre, a genuine dramatic statement in an
unadulterated. uncompromising rock idiom, there
can be little doubt

Curious Amalgam

But its curious amalgam of concrete, persona—
lized specifics, childlike verse and mystical messa-
gizing demands a sensitive 3 et healthily theatrical
realization. And the Widespread familiarity of the
Who 5 own recorded version imposes on any stage
produCtion a dual musical task, to be simul-1
taneously imitative and exciting

Dramatically, the Aquarius production uses the:
same format as the amateur USC version of last
year. There is still the same multilevel mirrored
set of platforms and suspended hexagonal screenS.
the same oddlytimid deployment of‘ film' and the
same doggedly literal and essentially unfocused

“conception" by J oel Rosenzweig, now listed as co-
director of the Aquarius version.

It is all executed 111thiar greater slickness and
professionalism than at USC. But while one 311--
‘ mires the sleekness of the sets and the pizazz of the
costumes one regrets the near eradication of the
communal Spirit L”which occasionally surfaced at
USC, and which pervaded the productions at Lone
Mountain College in San Francisco and at the
South Coast Repertory Theater in Costa Mesa

Fevered Gyrations

Despite the fevered gyrations of a vastly talent-
-- ed group of dancers, codirector and choreographer
Claude Thompson’s overlay of brassy Vegas, TV'S-
variety—show -', jazz-dance routines either echoes
banal details in the text or coe: {ists alongside that
text irrelevantly.

The whole looks hollow,1acking not only the
communaiity of enthusiastic amateurism, but the
sort of inspired theatricality which distinguished
the Seattle Opera's similarly professional, even
more lavish production last spring.

Musically arranger and conductor Dehny Ran
dall sticks reasqnably close to the Who's sound,

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