The Who's Tommy: Wikis

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The Who's Tommy
TommyBway.jpg
Original Broadway Recording
Music Pete Townshend
Lyrics Pete Townshend
Book Pete Townshend
Des McAnuff
Basis Tommy rock opera by The Who
Productions 1992 La Jolla Playhouse
1993 Broadway
1996 West End revival
2008 Dallas Theater Center
Awards Tony Award for Best Score, Tony Award for Best Choreography, Tony Award for Best Scenic Design, Tony Award for Best Lighting Design, Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical

The Who's Tommy is a rock musical by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff based on The Who's 1969 double album rock opera Tommy, also by Pete Townshend.

Contents

Productions

The musical opened at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California in July 1992. The Broadway debut was at the St. James Theatre on April 22, 1993 and closed on June 17, 1995, after 899 performances and 27 previews. Directed by Des McAnuff with choreography by Wayne Cilento, the original cast included Michael Cerveris (Tommy), Marcia Mitzman (Mrs. Walker), Jonathan Dokuchitz (Captain Walker) and Cheryl Freeman (The Gypsy/Acid Queen) plus an ensemble that included Alice Ripley, Christian Hoff, Norm Lewis, and Sherie Rene Scott. The play subsequently was produced by various touring companies throughout North America and Europe.

An original cast recording was produced by RCA Victor and released on July 13, 1993.

A Canadian Production opened at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto on March 1, 1995, and played throughout the year.[1] The production featured an entirely Canadian cast, and the lead character of Tommy was played by Tyley Ross.[2] Once the Toronto run ended, the production went on a Cross-Canada tour.

A revival ran in the West End at the Shaftesbury Theatre from March 5, 1996 until February 8, 1997, featuring Paul Keating (Tommy) and Kim Wilde (Mrs. Walker).[3]

A European tour of Tommy opened on January 26, 2005 at the Chasse Theatre in Breda, The Netherlands. The opening was set to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the original Tommy album by The Who.

The original Broadway cast performed a one night only reunion benefit concert at the August Wilson Theatre in New York City on December 15, 2008. Produced by The Path Fund/Rockers on Broadway, the concert was a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the Broadway Dreams Foundation and the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia and Parkinson Foundation.[4]

This musical inspired Data East's production of a pinball machine called The Who's Tommy Pinball Wizard, which used music from the original Broadway cast recording.

Plot

Act I

1940: Against the backdrop of World War II appears a montage of Mr. and Mrs. Walker meeting, their marriage, Captain Walker's departure for WWII, and his capture in a POW (Prisoner of War) camp ("Overture"). Back in London, two officers arrive at 22 Heathfield Gardens to bring a pregnant Mrs. Walker the tragic news that Mr. Walker is missing and presumed dead( "Captain Walker").

1941: A nurse gently hands Mrs. Walker her newborn son ("It's a Boy").

1945: The USA intercepts Walker's POW camp, he is freed and heads home. Believing her husband dead, Mrs. Walker finds a boyfriend, and they celebrate her twenty-first birthday and discuss getting married together with now four-year-old Tommy. To his surprise, Captain Walker arrives as Mrs. Walker and her boyfriend embrace. ("Twenty-One"). In shock, Mrs. Walker reaches out to touch him, but a fight erupts between Walker and the boyfriend. Tommy is watching the fight, and Mrs. Walker turns him towards the mirror in hopes of him not seeing the fight. Through the mirror, Tommy sees his father kill his mother's boyfriend. Mr. and Mrs. Walker embrace, but soon realize what Tommy has witnessed, and violently shake him, telling him he didn't see or hear anything ("What About the Boy"). The police arrive to investigate, while Tommy gazes at the mirror. A narrator (Tommy's older self) appears, visible only to Tommy ("Amazing Journey"), and invites the audience to witness Tommy's journey.

Captain Walker is tried, but found not guilty. However, the family celebration dies down as they realize Tommy is now deaf, dumb, and blind, when he fails to show emotion towards his father's release. Mr. and Mrs. Walker take him to a hospital, where a battery of doctors and nurses, to no avail, examine Tommy ("Sparks").

1950: The Walkers take ten-year-old Tommy to church and to a family dinner ("Christmas"). Although they try to enjoy the party, they can't help but think that Tommy doesn't know that it is Christmas. Everyone is stunned when Tommy responds to Uncle Ernie's playing the French Horn. Mr. Walker, in a desperate attempt to reach his son, asks "Tommy can you hear me?" multiple times. Older Tommy, only visible to young Tommy, sings to him. ("See Me, Feel Me"). Back home, the Walkers worry about whether to leave Tommy with the drunken Uncle Ernie ("Do You Think It's Alright"), but they convince themselves that Tommy will be fine. After the two leave, Ernie molests him ("Fiddle About"). Tommy's next babysitter, Cousin Kevin, and his friends, taunt and bully him mercilessly ("Cousin Kevin"). The group then takes Tommy to a youth club where, to everyone's astonishment, he plays pinball brilliantly ("Sensation"). Encouraged, the Walkers try yet another doctor, a psychiatrist, who tests Tommy without success ("Sparks (Reprise)"). The desperate Mr. Walker is approached by The Hawker and Harmonica Player ("Eyesight to the Blind") who promise a miraculous cure for Tommy. They take Mr. Walker and young Tommy to the Isle of Dogs to find a prostitute called The Gypsy ("Acid Queen"). Mr. Walker, horrified by the Gyspy's methods, snatches the boy and runs away. The act ends in 1958 as a group of teenagers await 17-year-old Tommy's appearance at the amusement arcade ("Pinball Wizard").

Act II

1960: Tommy has become the pinball champion and hero of the neighborhood lads. ("Underture"). The father, still in search of a cure, convinces his wife to try once more ("There's a Doctor"). They take Tommy to specialists ("Go to the Mirror/Listening to You") for elaborate tests, but to no avail. The doctors discover that no one can free Tommy from his catatonic state but himself. On the street a group of local louts surround Tommy ("Tommy, Can You Hear Me?") and carry him home. The parents, at their wit's end and considering having Tommy institutionalized, compassionately confront one another ("I Believe My Own Eyes"). Tommy stares into the mirror as his mother tries desperately to reach him one last time ("Smash the Mirror"). Out of rage, frustration, and desperation, she shatters the mirror that Tommy continually gazed at for years. With the mirror in pieces, Tommy becomes conscious ("I'm Free") and leaves home, while his cure hits the news ("Miracle Cure").

1961-1963: Tommy is idolized by the public and the press ("Pinball Wizard (Reprise)"), and begins appearing in stadiums, while Uncle Ernie tries to capitalize on his stardom, by selling Tommy souvenirs in a carnival-like setting ("Tommy's Holiday Camp"). On the night of the concert, Teenage Sally Simpson manages to sneak out and attend Tommy's concert. She gets on stage and tries to touch Tommy but, when he pushes her aside, she falls and is pummeled by the guards ("Sally Simpson"). Tommy, in horror, realizes how caught up in the celebrity machine he has become. He tends to her and invites everyone back to his house ("Welcome"). Once there, Sally asks Tommy how she can be more like him and less like herself ("Sally Simpson's Question"). He is confused, and insists that there is no reason to be like him, when everyone can be themselves.

Disenchanted with their hero for failing to provide exciting answers, the crowd turns on him and leaves ("We're Not Gonna Take It"). Tommy hears the voice of his ten-year-old self ("See Me, Feel Me") and for a moment, to the horror of his family, seems to be reverting to his old state. But instead he turns to his family, whom he has ignored during his stardom, embraces them in acceptance, and reunites with his younger selves ("Listening to You"). The entire ensemble joins him and his family on stage. After they all leave, the 4 year old Tommy, 10 year old Tommy, and adult Tommy dramatically end looking out in different directions.

Characters

Principals
  • Tommy, Age: 16-25, A young boy who descends into a catatonic state.
  • Captain Walker, Age: 25-35, Tommy's handsome father, a Royal Air Force Captain
  • Mrs Walker, Age: 18-30, Tommy's mother
Other Tommys
  • Tommy-Age 4, Age: 3-7 (Young Tommy)
  • Tommy-Age 10, Age:8-12 (Second Tommy)
Supporting
  • Cousin Kevin, Age: 15-20, Tommy's cousin who's a bully. He becomes head of Tommy's security force after he's cured.
  • Uncle Ernie, Age: 30-45, Tommy's drunk, perverted uncle. He runs Tommy's Holiday Camp.
  • The Boyfriend, Age: 20-25, Mrs. Walker's boyfriend, killed by Captain Walker.
  • The Hawker, Age: 20-50, Leader of New Age Cult
  • The Gypsy, Age: 20-35, A drug dealer and prostitute
  • The Specialist, Age: 30-50, A doctor who has new theories on how to cure Tommy
  • The Specialist Assistant, Age: 20-30, An assistant to the specialist
  • Sally Simpson, Age: 13-20, A typical teenage girl obsessed with Tommy.
  • Local Lads and Lasses: Cousin Kevin's friends

Song list

Act One
  • Overture – Company
  • Captain Walker – Officers
  • It's a Boy – Nurses and Mrs. Walker
  • We've Won – Captain Walker and Allied Soldiers
  • Twenty One – Mrs. Walker and Boyfriend
  • What About the Boy - Captain Walker and Mrs. Walker
  • Amazing Journey – Tommy
  • Sparks – Instrumental
  • Amazing Journey (Reprise) – Tommy
  • Christmas – Captain Walker, Mrs. Walker, Minister, Minister's Wife and Ensemble
  • See Me, Feel Me – Tommy
  • Do You Think It's Alright? – Captain Walker and Mrs. Walker
  • Fiddle About (Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle) – Uncle Ernie and Ensemble
  • See Me, Feel Me (Reprise) – Tommy
  • Cousin Kevin (Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle) – Cousin Kevin and Ensemble
  • Sensation – Tommy and Ensemble
  • Sparks (Reprise)
  • Eyesight to the Blind (Lyrics by Sonny Boy Williamson II, Music and additional lyrics by Pete Townshend) – Hawker, Harmonica Player and Ensemble
  • Acid Queen – The Gypsy
  • Pinball Wizard – Local Lads, Cousin Kevin and Ensemble
Act Two
  • Underture (Entr'acte) – Ensemble
  • There's a Doctor – Captain Walker and Mrs. Walker
  • Go to the Mirror! – Specialist, Specialist's Assistant, Captain Walker and Mrs. Walker
  • Listening to You – Tommy, Tommy, Age 10 and Tommy, Age 4
  • Tommy, Can You Hear Me? – Local Lads
  • I Believe My Own Eyes – Captain Walker and Mrs. Walker
  • Smash the Mirror – Mrs. Walker
  • I'm Free – Tommy
  • Miracle Cure– News Vendor and Local Lads
  • Sensation (Reprise) – Tommy and Ensemble
  • I'm Free (Reprise)/Pinball Wizard – Tommy and Company
  • Tommy's Holiday Camp (Music and Lyrics Credited to Keith Moon) – Uncle Ernie
  • Sally Simpson – Cousin Kevin, Security Guards, Sally Simpson, Mr. Simpson and Mrs. Simpson
  • Welcome – Tommy and Ensemble
  • Sally Simpson's Question-Sally Simpson, Tommy
  • We're Not Gonna Take It – Tommy and Ensemble
  • See Me, Feel Me/Listening to You (Reprise) – Tommy and Company

References

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

It has been suggested that this article or section should be merged with The Who. (Discuss)

Songs

Pinball Wizard

Ever Since I was a Young Boy, I played the silver ball, From Soho down to Brighton, I must have played them all.

But I ain't seen nothing like him

Ain't got no distractions, Can't hear no buzzes n' bells.


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