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‘The Who’s Tommy’ at Prince William Little Theatre

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Remember that band that formed in 1964 and sold 100 million records world wide? The Who? Well, now you have the chance to catch a glimpse of the musical based off of their fourth album from 1969, Tommy by Peter Townsend and Des McAnuff.

Mrs. Walker (Danica Shook) and Captain Walker (Kurt Gustafson) are living through the tough times of World War II in England. Captain Walker was drafted into the military leaving behind a pregnant Mrs. Walker. The war drags on and Mrs. Walker receives grave news. Eventually, she gives birth to Tommy (Soren and Kieran Romano, Eric Verchot-Ware), and moves on with her life. At a young age, Tommy witnesses a horrible accident upon which he is thrown into a transitive state, only reacting to his mirror. As he grows, so do the rumors of the deaf, dumb, and blind kid, until he plays a game of Pinball. He raises attention, being titled the Pinball Wizard. Life gets harder on Tommy’s parents and eventually his mother shatters the mirror, releasing him from his trance. Tommy’s increased fame travels when he speaks and sings, gathering lines upon lines of fans. Adjusting to the fame, his interaction with the fans makes him realize they are marveling for the wrong reason and things take another turn.

Soren Romano and Kieran Romano each showed fantastic devotion toward the non-reactive states of Child and Young Tommy. At ages 8 and 11 their professionalism to the roles were impressive.

Eric Verchot-Ware, older Tommy, exemplified great vocal skills as he exaggerated the dynamic change between introvert and extrovert Tommy, especially in his showstoppers “Amazing Journey” and “I’m Free.”

Tommy’s mother, Mrs. Walker (Danica Shook) shows love and worry for her son that eventually crashed when she throws a fit and breaks his mirror, in the powerful and hysterical “Smash the Mirror,” leaving her excited and overjoyed to hear her sons voice for the first time in many years.

Captain Walker (Kurt Gustafson) showed effort in participating in his sons life but eventually gave up when he didn’t receive response. Gustafson successfully portrayed the defeated parent.

Individual roles showed great vocal and acting skills, however the ensemble as a whole lacked skill to participate in some of the dances by Melanie Gibson and Ahmad Maaty, and songs. What they missed in skill they made up for in energy, and effort. There were many standout ensemble and individual roles such as Ahmad Maaty and Becca Harney. And they were explosive in “Sparks” and “Pinball Wizard,” lead by Aaron Verchot-Ware’s creepy and slimy Cousin Kevin. And Matt Baughman’s Uncle Ernie was even creepier with “Fiddle About.”

Nicholas Mastrangelo’s sets were extremely dynamic and the use of effects greatly contributed to the constant changing mood of the show. Fog machines and quick light changes added to the psychedelic states. The intelligent use of a projector screen defines the time period and occassionally enhances the emotions within Tommy’s mind. The costumes, designed by Michelle Matthews, and the set used significant color changes to emphasize the feelings captured on stage. The microphones occassionally ranged from quiet to loud but primarily remained stable. Sound design by Matthew Scarborough overall was full of lively effects.

The musical score was comprised of many difficuly harmonies that the majority of the ensemble performed well in. The band was phenomenal and even dressed as original members of the Who.

Director Melissa Jo-York Tilley took on a great challenge but successfully put together an exciting production. Multitasking, she also took on the jobs of Hairdresser and Publicity.

Prince William Little Theatre’s production of Tommy captured and entertained the audience with their energetic dances and bold leads. It’s a production that should be seen.

 

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The Who’s Tommy plays through July 26, 2015  at Prince William Little Theatre performing at the Hylton Performing Arts Center – 10960 George Mason Circle, in Manassas, VA. For tickets, purchase them online.

Recommended for all audiences.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif

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