October 27, 2020

1996-01-21 – The Orlando Sentinel

1996 01 21 The_Orlando_Sentinel_Sun__Jan_21__1996_ 2

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The Onme Sentinel. Sunday. January 21. 1996

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BIG LEAGUE THEATRICALS

Michael Seelbach is Tommy and Shorey Walker is Sally Simpson in
‘Tommy.’ The rock opera opens Tuesday in Orlando.

New ‘Tommy’ dumps gadgets
but keeps the original energy

TOMMY from F-1

“But one of the big draws is that
it has gone through so many ver-
sions that people just are curious
to see what's next." Seelbach said.

The rock opera has been a re-
cord album. a concert, a ballet, a
movie, the high-tech Broadway
version and the scaled-down, non-
Actors Equity version appearing
in Orlando this week.

Producers pulled the original
national tour off the road in 1993
because the high-tech effects, in-
cluding a flying pinball machine
and a proscenium arch lined with
TV monitors, were as often off as
they were on.

The new version has dumped a
lot of the glitzy gadgets but re-
tained the energy of The Who's
music.

Seelbach, a native of Cleveland.
said he had friends who listened
to The Who. although he was not
particularly familiar with the
group’s music before he took the
starring role.

“I had auditioned for the direc-
tor, Victoria Bussert. in Cleveland.
when she was putting on Into The
Woods. Then she got the job di-
recting Tommy and remembered
my audition. She called me to
come and audition for Tommy. so
I flew to New York.“

Seelbach. who had just finished
his senior year in high school, ad-

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I
mitted he was shocked and
thrilled at the prospect. “I had
never auditioned for anything in
New York before.” He laughed.
adding. “Hey. I had never audi-
tioned for anything professional
before."

The singer had grown up per-
forming musical theater in school.
and then elected to attend the E
Cleveland Institute of Music for 1
his last year of high school. '

“I wanted to go for that one year
to get a good classical founda-
tion.” Seelbach said. “And to get
out of my last year in regular high
school."

He went from the sedate Insti-
tute to a touring rock show in a
matter of months, but says he
didn’t have much trouble adjust-
ing to life on the road. |

“We’ve been on the road since I
Sept. 7, with a week off at Christ-
mas. But I love it. It’s a great time
for me to be doing it. I love travel-
ing and being on the bus."

Seelbach's stint with Tommy
runs through June. After that. he
says. it could be back to school. I
“But I imagine I will be audition-
ing for another show.”

Who’s Tommy will appear at a
free question-and-answer session
at noon Wednesday at the Orlando
Public Library. 101 E. Central ‘
Blvd, Orlando. For more informa- '.
tion. call (407) 425-4694, ext. 480. i

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Some of the cast members of The ‘