The Who’s Tommy Plays a Mean Pinball By: Laura Jordan

Now playing at the Zach Theater through August 17th is The Who’s Tommy and you TOMMYpress04don’t want to miss it.  Known for its Tony award winning original score, the music takes the audience with young Tommy as he travels through the looking glass that is his life.  As the harsh events of his deaf, dumb and blind life take place, and we go further and further down the rabbit hole, every character becomes a staple from the Alice in Wonderland story.  While Tommy’s parents try desperately to cure him we find out that he is a master pinball wizard.  The show comes to a close when his mother smashes the looking glass and Tommy stumbles out of his spell to become popular in his growing celebrity.TOMMYpress05

As a fan of theater and not an expert, I was not expecting the level of audience participation that was surprising delightful.  When we discover that grown Tommy plays a mean pinball the audience is turned fully in to a living pinball machine.  BIG, silver, bouncy balls were released in to the audience while flashing lights exploded and the entire cast sang and danced on stage and others dispersed throughout to keep the game going.  I’ve never seen a crowd get so in to it.

TOMMYpress11The cast was just as good as the interaction.  The night I attended it was Will Sendera that played young Tommy and he played a perfect straight laced, innocent little guy who you couldn’t help but feel sorry for as you come to learn the tragedies that make
up his life. It’s his performance that allows the teenage Tommy, played by Michael Valentine, to vindicate his younger self with a beautiful singing voice.  For voices, nothing was better than Paul Sanchez, Susanne Abbott and Edward Burkley playing all the major Wonderland characters.

The costumes also held their own (Susan Branch Towne) including the wigs (Serret Jensen).  They created all the fun and excitement of pinball machines and Wonderland.

Get in to it!


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