“See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Hear Me” CLASSIC ROCK
“OMG I love that Show” opened their fall 2015 season with Peter Townshends classic pop rock musical THE WHO'S TOMMY. The 60’s epic record album first hit the stage in 1993 and has developed a cult following ever since. Its impressive to see this potential large musical in a black box space at the Dean Lesher Knight Stage. It does limit the space to see this rock opera without live music, due to small space, yet the pre recorded sound track is powerful. Artistic Director Ryan Cowles says “ Below the surface, Tommy is a complex and moving story that explores multiple themes that are, in many ways, more prevalent today than they may have been in 1969. Bullying, disabilities, family dynamic, abuse and creating instant celebrities.”
Tommy’s story is set in the Who’s rock opera of the same name. It tells the story of a young boy left voiceless and autistic after at 4 years old he witnessed his father killing his mom's boyfriend. (Tommy’s MIA father returned unexpectedly from World War II). The trauma sends the boy to a comatose state, neglected and bullied while his parents search for a cure, Tommy discovers a bond with Pinball games, and grows to his teen years as a brilliant pinball Wizard. The music is strong and the cast is busy telling the story through dance and song. Tommy becomes a wizard of sensation, then his mum in an accident cures him and the romp begins. Director Ryan Cowles production is tireless and full of energy, his direction is well crafted. Cowles also designed the show including the set, that he kept simple minimalist white, and easy access for his talented cast to move through and set up.
Vocals directors Sean Kana and Alicia Jeffrey, get the most out of their 17 member cast, that is on stage most of the time. All the leads are excellent and have no difficulty handling the complex score by Townshend. The pitch perfect and engaging Jennifer Stark plays Tommy’s mom Mrs. Walker. She plays the boy's mother with a great balance between frustration and faith. “It’s A Boy” performed by Stark and the two nurses Monica Turner and Mariah Heath is powerful.
Jason Rehiklau is the older Tommy, and is excellent as the role of the narrator in the first act. He is simple quiet and elegant dressed in white, as he interacts with the two young Tommy's, cute Tyler Hennessey and William Lipton. Both younger actors are on cue and weave the story as the cast circles around them in many of the bigger numbers.”Pinball Wizard” is a highlight of the first act, high stepped by the talented choreographer Staci Arriaga. Much of the two hours is dance and Arriaga kept the small stage busy and the company is excellent in the classic “We’re Not Going To Take It”. In the second act Tommy is set free from his inner madness and Rehlkau leaps into the icon rocker and becomes that phenom.
Benjamin Pither is outstanding as Tommy's dad Mr. Walker, his voice and emotion fill the Dean Lesher black box. Paul Plain is the evil Uncle Ernie who has some of the more awkward scenes with the younger cast, but it all works in “Fiddle About”. Chris Aceves plays the bully Cousin Kevin and he has that moody evil charm, and a voice to match.The ensemble is accomplished and features some great voices, Jacob Judd plays a number of roles most memorable the Minister. Many of the cast plays a number of roles, Jenny Anglell, Sydney Chow, Mariah Heath, CC Sheldon and Monica Turner belt out some classics “Acid Queen” and in dance scene “Sparks”. The male chorus is just as strong featuring the skillful, Zachariah Mohammed, Marcus Lance, Miguell Samonte and Keaton Wilkerson are superb in “I’m Free/Pinball Wizard” reprise.
The costumes by Kat Pruyn and Shelby Deans-Flegel are bright and elegant, especially some of the suit and jacked pieces on the male ensemble. The three Tommy’s are classic white and blend well in Eric Johnson's lighting design. The pools of light are moody and electric when needed. Michael Doppe’s projections are important in the set design since they tell some of the story, they are well crafted. The sound design by Lyle Barrere is a mix of the pre recorded music for this production, and the company had to be on cue bringing the final number “See Me Feel Me” to its dramatic max. You don’t need to be a fan of this music to fall for this rock musical, it is about love and forgiveness, music and the joy of awakening. It runs through Oct 11th. OMG is bringing “it” this season with some hidden gems that we don’t see on stage much, so be sure to follow their link below to see their fun 2015 - 2016 Season..
OMG I LOVE THAT SHOW PRESENTS
The Who’s TOMMY
Music and Book by Pete Townshend and Des Mcanuff
Additional Music by John Entwistle and Keith Moon
Directed by Ryan Cowles, Co-vocal Direction by Sean Kana and Alicia Jeffrey, Choreography by Staci Arriaga.
AT THE LESHER CENTER FOR THE ARTS
September 18th through October 11th, 2015
Tickets 30.00 - 60.00
More info at http://www.omgilovethatshow.com/
Some photo’s by Ben Krantz
Photo of "Three Tommy's by Tom Deans Flegel