October 25, 2020

1993-04-25 – The Kokomo Tribune

1993 04 25 The_Kokomo_Tribune_Sun__Apr_25__1993_

Sunday, April 25, 1993

Kokomo, tlndJ Tribune 17

‘Tommy’ makes loud entrance on Broadway

By MICHAELKUCHWARA
Associated Prem

NEW YORK (AP)— “The Who's
Tommy" is a musical made in MTV
heaven. an ear—shattering extrava-
ganza that settles for flash rather than
substance or any kind of emotional
involvement

That may be enough judging from
the raptumus response of prewew au-
diences at Broadway' 5 St. James
Theater where the lavish production
openedThursday night.

But aging boomers who inhaled the
classic British rock opera nearly 25
years ago might just be puzzled by
this relentlessly visual version that
seems to have been designed for their
music-video children. It’s one thing
to beenveloped by the Who's legend-
ary recording; it's another to have the
music take a back seat to sets. cos-
tumes, lighting. projections. film
clips and other production values.

Actually, “The Who's Tommy” is
a misnomer. The show should be
called “Des McAnuff’s Tommy"
because the director and co—adapter is
the musical‘s real pinball wizard.

McAnuff, who runs the La Jolla
Playhouse in California, has taken
out a patent on perpetual motion.
From a deafening Opening chord —
thatliterallyjolts theatergoers Into at-

tention — to a finale that owes a lot to
“Do You Hear the People Sing?"ln in
"Les Miserables “ the show never
stopsmoving.

For nearly the entire first act.
McAnuff manages to successfully
meld motion and melodrama. The
plot still follows the travails ofthe ti-
tle character. shocked into a kind of
catatonic state after he sees his father

shoot and kill his mother‘s lover.
Tommy. molested by his uncle.

beaten up by his sadistic cousin and
jeered and sneered at by his peers.
finds salvation and a way out of his
darkness by playing pinball.

The tale fractures and falters in the
second act and so does the show.
Tommy‘s celebrity status doesn’t
bring happiness -— only louder music
and more special effects. They in-
clude a pinball machine that swirls up
from the floor of the stage like a fly-
ing barber chair and promptly ex-
plodes. Only when Tommy. a
Christ-Iike figure dressed all in
white, forgives his tormentors. as
well as his mother and father. does he
triumph. Whether you care or not is
anotherthing.

MeAnuff. who worked closely

OPEN
SUNDAYS AT
0 .

STEEL INN Hocxenou

with “Tommy" composer-lyricist
Pete Townshcntl, has concocted a
production that removes some of thc
grittincss tmm the justly celebrated
Score. Having performers act out the
songs on stage flattens and softens
the Work‘ 5 hard rock edges. So does
Wayne Cilcnto's Shindig choreogra< phy updated with a bit of Michael Jackson. The Who‘s original perfor- mances had a great deal to do with the opera'sinitialsuccess. The Broadway actors and singers in "Tommy" :Ire serviceable, com- petent pop music pawns. Their anon- ymous personalities will make them easy to replace without hurting the musical one bit. The show. not who appears in it. is the thing. and that‘s how the evening will be sold to the public. It‘s hard to tell who did what in re- gard to production design —~ sets, projections and film are integrated with astonishing case. A giant screen, divided into l8 rectangles, fills the back wall ot‘the stage. There are sly pictorial references in the designs to an array of 20th cen- tury anists, ranging from Magritte to KOKOMO'S Andy Warhol to Keith Haring to Gi|~ bert & George. The projections allow for split second scene changes. For the record the set designer Is John Amone the lighting was done by Chns Parry and the mawelous pro- jections were the Work of Wendell Ki Harrington. "Tommy" is an assault of sound. light and color. Don‘t go expecting anything more. and you'll have a ma- Steven King ’a THEDARKHALF- R CANDYMAN- R Box 0'- eeopexu’lpm. Movie sum 29.1}qu Located on North Main. Monticello W W sir. “- *“ Acessonv (‘I EADAMI‘I’: L I be": Miller a Son sonable. if uninvolving, time. Then go home. put on the old Who album H assuming you still have something as antiquated as a turntable — andlis— ten tothe real stuff. HIGH SCHOOL CLASS RINGS , ‘ t S‘IARTWVED ‘4 ___emum.l fbcoflflmlclmllqt $19.95 mm an Inn 40.” met tom $59.55 w nu uII JIElll HUM - llEtlllfS Lll UESMH SlMS Stilts Oflev EXDWIS May 31. 1993‘ Some vestnctms apply See dealer tor details ENGEL JEWELERS 200 N. MAIN . 317—459-5854