October 28, 2020

1996-04-21 – The Indianapolis Star

1996 04 21 The_Indianapolis_Star_Sun__Apr_21__1996_

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lover, Witnessing the trauma
turns l‘ommy into ‘d "deal. dumb
and blind boy" who develops into
a pinball Champion and then a
messiahlike figure.

The story, which originally was
told on an ambitious rock ‘n' roll
album. also has had incarnations
as a ballet. a symphonic work and
a movie.

"I think in each format. you try
to preserve what people love about
it, which is that score.“ Denen-
berg says. “Then you try to add
what is best from that medium.
The Broadway Tommy is a Broad-
way show —-— it tells a story, it has
huge production numbers. it has
costumes and dance and sets and
lights."

It‘s also somewhat revamped
from the original version. Town-
shend added a song. I Belteve My
Own Eyes. a duet for Tommy' 3
parents

‘lt helps connect the story line
for the parents so that it could
move forward. which is the cata-
lyst for Mrs. Walker losing her
temper and singing Smash the
Mirror and then for Tommy to
come out of his catatonia." Phil-
lips says. “The way it’s created
for the stage is a more cohesive
story."

Ending rewritten

Townshend also rewrote the
ending to allow Tommy to recon-
cile with his parents. That alter-
ation in particular irritated some
fans. who felt Townshend had
abandoned Tommy‘s original re-
belliousness and simply sold out.

“The changes are very slight.”
Denenberg says. “The changes
that were made weren't just
changes; they were changes made
by Pete Townshend. the original
author. I think that person has
the right to make changes."

Townshend's former mates in
The Who have been less forgiving.
in an interview earlier this year.
bassist John Entwistle called the

‘AIIAZING JOURNEY’: Adult Tommy (Michael Seelbach) and 10-year-old Tommy(Matthew
Williams) portray the blind and deaf title character In The Who’ 3 Tommy.

show "Tommy in a suit" and said
derisively that “it's about as rock
'n‘ roll as you’ll get for Broadway.
I guess."

Daltrey. The Who's singer. said
in a 1994 interview: “If you listen
to the soundtrack of the musical
Tommy. to me that‘s what Tom-
my would have been like without
The Who. And where would it
have been?"

But generally. Tommy has re-
ceived enthusiastic reviews.
Frank Rich. writing in The New
York Times. said: “When the time
comes for the entire company to
advance on the audience to sing
its final incantation — Listening
to you I get the music. Gazing at

you I get the heat' — Tommy has
done what rock-and-roll can do
but almost never does in the the-
ater: reawaken an audience's ado-
lescent feelings of rebellion and
allow them open-throated re-
lease."

Audience gets into act

For some. the show will bring
back memories of youthful rebel-
lion. Others may appreciate the
theatrics. which include the eight-
piece band performing the show
from a 20- -foot-long bridge sus-
pended above the rear of the
stage.

“For Who fans. it's enjoying the
thing they love in a whole new.

creative way," Denenberg says. , I
“For the traditional Broadway
theatergoer. who might go see The ,
King and 1. they’re going to be
really delighted to see something
new. the multi-medla presentation
and stuff. but they still will be
seeing a Broadway show.

“People say they want to see ..
something new and fresh and not I
so many revivals. This is it."

—___—_—_____
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ITo hear music from 3-.
The Who's Tommy. call‘ iI
InioUne at (317) 624463u:
and press 4000.

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