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Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Who's Tommy takes the stage Thursday at DePauw

Monday, April 13, 2009

Teenage Tommy (Calvin Timm), seated, is taunted by a group of local lads played by (from left) Brandon Piper, Camron Parker and David Terry.
Near the beginning of World War II, Tommy Walker was born into a single parent home in England. His father, an RAF captain, had been declared missing in action, presumed lost forever. When Captain Walker unexpectedly returns four years later, he finds his wife with another man and unintentionally kills him. Young Tommy, shocked by the violent scene, closes his eyes and ears to the world becoming "deaf, dumb and blind."

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.

Why Tommy?

Matt Patterson (Captain Walker), Lauren Palmer (young Tommy) and Julia Rohm-Ensing (Mrs. Walker) act out the scene that causes the young boy closes his eyes and ears to the outside world.
"I wanted to do a loud show. The last two shows I directed were too quiet," said Timm. "Also, it's the 40th anniversary of the release of The Who's double-album."

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 greencenter@depauw.edu

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Can't wait to see this.

-- Posted by tjchopper on Mon, Apr 13, 2009, at 5:32 PM

Saw the movie with Elton John as a teenager....loved it! Hope all goes well for the production!

-- Posted by concern on Tue, Apr 14, 2009, at 2:37 PM

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