October 23, 2020

1994-04-27 – The Los Angeles Times

1994 04 27 The_Los_Angeles_Times_Wed__Apr_27__1994_

‘TOMMY’
Continued from 38
April. 1993, at the St. James Theatre after
substantial surgery. including a re-tooling
of the second act.

In May. “Tommy" will head for Costa
. Mesa's Orange County Performing Arts
.Center, and in early June goes to the San
Francisco Opera House. The show comes
to the Universal Amphitheatre J uly 13-31.
While the producers expect to have only
one “Tommy" touring' company in the
United States, plans exist for other “Tom-
my" productions in Toronto, London and
other European cities. '

“I'm thrilled that it's going to be in
California during the summer. . . . It's
pretty much a California product,” “Tom-
my" co-creator and director M MacAnuff
said. "They attempted to produce the show
in London in the '708, and it failed. “l‘ommy’
is very much an American creation."

Scott Zeiger. president of Pace Theatri- -

cal Group and executive producer of the
“Tommy" tour, said he expects “Tommy"
to be successful with Palm Desert's tra-
ditionally older audience. despite their
unfamiliarity with rock. “Our second stop

on this tour was Fort Lauderdale, and
while there are certainly plenty of young

V people there, the traditional audience is .

retired," he said. “They stood on their feet
and cheered.

“It did win five Tony Awards, and has
been legitimized by Broadway. The prima-
ry difference between this and any other
Broadway musical is that it was written by
Pete Townshend, not Andrew Lloyd Web.
ber. It has an electric guitar and bass in the
orchestra, and it's definitely a rock music
score, but it is a book musical."

Zeiger said that while “Tommy” has an
audience of Who fans, it requires aggressive
marketing because it is such a new show,
going on tour just a year after its Broadway
opening. “People are seeing something
fresh, but by the same token, unlike ‘Phan-
tom,’ ‘Les Miserables’ or ‘Miss Saigon,’ we
haven’t been running long enough to devel-
op a huge groundswell of interest."

While Zeiger said a single-budget figure
for the tour is hard to calculate. the show
costs approximately $500,000 a week to

tour, and is booked through June. 1995.

Reviews have ranged from ecstatic 'to
lukewarm; Houston Chronicle's Everett
Evans, for example, termed it “lavishly
over-rated" and “emotionally empty.”

Despite the reviews, Randy Whitescarv-
er, stage manager, said “Tommy” has
played to sellout crowds across the coun-
try. “We broke an all-time box-office
record in Boston," he said. “The day after
‘Tornmy’ won five Tony Awards. the
Broadway production took in $494,000.”

Whitescarver said that the show has
been difficult to tour because of its size and
technical complexity. “A lot of road shows
go out that have one or two big effects.
They’ll travel with either a lot of lighting
and a little scenery, or an automation deck
that will move the scenery via computer
instead of having stagehands pushing it.

“We have a little bit of everything. We
have the automated deck; we have a
tremendous amount of lighting; we have
front projection. rear projection. video—
still video. laser-disc video—we have py-
rotechnics, we have a pinball machine
that's on hydraulics that spins and lifts and
explodes. We pulled all the tricks out."

I “The Who’s Tommy" will be at the
McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert today
through Saturday, for information call (619)
340-AR7’S or (619) 278-TIXS; at the Orange
County Performing Arts Center, May 10-15,
(714) 740-2000,- and the Universal Amphi-
theatre, July13-31, (213) 480-3232.