It is often difficult to find the words to express the magic that can be presented in our world of “theater”. Since Paramount Theatre has been bringing us their Broadway Series, many more theater lovers are heading out to Aurora. This theater under the direction of its originator, Jim Corti just keeps getting stronger and the productions they bring to their wonderful stage are top-notch. They are currently doing what is called “THE” Rock Opera that should not be missed, “The Who’s Tommy”. This Rock Opera astounded New York in the 1990’s and the energy and excitement have found a home in Aurora at least thru February 15th (a great Valentine’s Day gift, by the way).
Under the skillful eye of Corti with a cast that is pure dynamite, this sterling production brings a story to life with the fantastic music created by Pete Townsend with a book that Townsend created along with Des McAnuff. The musical began as a record album that depicts the story of “Tommy” who as a little boy is witness to his father shooting his mother’s lover, after the father was released from a prisoner of war camp. The trauma that Tommy is thrown into makes him deaf, dumb and blind. His main form of communication becomes his ability to play the pin ball (he becomes the “Pinball Wizard”) as he becomes a star in our world.
Being a “Rock Opera” there is no actual dialogue. Every word is sung and the story-telling is amazing! We watch Tommy grow into a super star despite his mental anguish with being so. He just wants to be like everyone else. We witness the character of Tommy as played by three actors. Our first introduction, the shooting scene finds the role portrayed by young Peyton Owen and as he ages to ten, where the role is taken over by Ricky Falbo and the again to a young man ,where the role now is played to perfection by Devin DeSantis who is brilliant in the handling of the music and the character. In fact all three are as good as it gets!The transitions are masterfully done as Corti has them dressed alike as one takes on and the others moves aside. This make sit easy to follow. As a side note, all of the Tommys are around as alter-egos throughout the two hours and 15 minutes.
Being a Rock Opera, rather than a musical there are no easy places for the audience to applaud to show their appreciation for the songs and dance numbers (Choreography by Brock Clawson), but I for one, can tell you, the audience appreciated every minute of the production and were on their feet at the end- 100%!
The technical part of this production; set (Linda Buchanan),Costumes (Theresa Ham), Lighting (Greg Hofmann), sound (Adam Rosenthal), projections (Mike Tutaj), props (Sarah E. Ross) are superb pieces that make this production so complete. The fight Choreography (R & D Choreography) and Flying effects by ZFX,Inc as well as the orchestra, directed and conducted by Tom Vendafreddo (8 musicians sounding like a full orchestra) all add to what is the sheer magic in Aurora.
What makes a production like this truly work is the ensemble. The energy and talent that Corti and his staff have found to make this production so magical are: David Schlumpf and the lovely Hillary Marren as Tommy’s parents, Jake Klinkhammer as his Uncle Ernie,Liam Quealy as his cousin Kevin, Meghan Murphy (the very sexy gypsy who’s rendition of “The Acid Queen” will truly get to you), Aubrey Adams, William carlos Angulo, Jonathan Butler-Duplessis, Bryan Howard Conner, Lillie Cummings, Matt Deitchman, Shane Frantz, Josh Kohane, Erica A Lewis, Terrance Martin, Mandy Modic, Nolan Moss, Amy Orman, Alexandra Palkovic, Olivia Renteria, Laura Savage, Jill Sesso, Jonny Stein, Erica Stephan and Neil Stratman. A great group making this show very special and one to see!
We know many of the songs, of course, the main one “Pinball Wizard” and of course “See Me, Feel Me”, but there are many wonderful tunes that make this story come alive. I don’t want to be a spoiler, so I will tell you only that there is a happy ending and you will find yourself wishing this play lasted even longer. “The Who’s Tommy” will continue at The Paramount Theatre located at 23 East galena Blvd in downtown Aurora through February 15th ( maybe they can extend, but with their busy season, the theater may not be available, so figure on only to the 15th) with performances as follows:
Wednesdays at 1:30 and 7 p.m.
Thursdays at 7 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 1 and 5:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $41-$54 ( a true bargain for theater of this caliber) and can be purchased by calling the box office at 630-896-6666 or online at www.ParamountAurora.com.
The show is rated PG-13 but I spoke with several younger kids who liked what they saw and one even told me that the story told her that the parents loved their son so much that he was famous and loved because of that. She was 6- sharp little girl!
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “The Who’s Tommy” and may I say, this is one that is a MUST SEE! I expect to see some Jeff Awards on this production.