So begins the story of DePauw Theatre's final production of the 2008-2009 season, The Who's Tommy, a musical theatre adaptation of the rock sensation, Tommy, recorded by the English band, The Who.
The production opens on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., and audience members are invited to join the cast and crew for an opening night party following that performance. Additional performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. All performances are in Moore Theatre in the Judson and Joyce Green Center for the Performing Arts.
Tommy, a full-length rock opera released in 1969, was conceived and written by The Who's lead guitarist, Pete Townshend. The album was an immediate commercial and critical hit about which media such as Life Magazine said, "...for sheer power, invention and brilliance of performance, Tommy outstrips anything which has ever come out of a recording studio."
Songs from the double-album set dominating the airwaves at the time include, "Pinball Wizard," "See Me, Feel Me" and "Acid Queen." In 1975, a hallucinatory film adaptation was released that featured Elton John, Ann-Margret, Tina Turner and Jack Nicholson.
The Who's Tommy was created for the stage in 1992 by Des McAnuff, at that time the artistic director of the La Jolla Playhouse in California. The production premiered in La Jolla and moved quickly to Broadway in 1993, receiving rave reviews and several Tony and Drama Desk Awards.
While changes from the original rock opera are significant -- the songs appear in a different order, solos have become duets or choral numbers, Tommys of several ages interact -- the story is still the basic tale of a young boy traumatized into silence who eventually comes alive as a pinball-playing star.
Directed by professor of communication and theatre Steve Timm, the DePauw production features a cast, crew and band of more than 50 that includes DePauw students and staff members and members of the community.
Few of the students involved with the production came to it aware of the cultural significance of the piece.
"I've had five old people in the last week tell me they saw The Who perform Tommy live in '68 or '69, and they talk about specific moments where Townshend's tearing up the guitar and even in the retelling, they're still getting chills," Timm said.
The production is recommended for mature audiences.
Tickets for the production are $3 for students and $6 for adults and are available for purchase at the DePauw University Green Center for the Performing Arts Center Box Office. Box Office hours are Monday and Wednesday noon to 2 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 1 to 5 p.m., Friday noon to 4 p.m. and one hour prior to show time.
Information and reservations are available by calling 658-4827 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org