First, please do not let the Ken Russell film scare you away from this rock opera — there is not a single bean to be found in this whole performance. Yes, the show is rather odd and definitely trippy at times, but it’s The Who, what do you expect?
The story is entirely easy to follow and the characters do not rely on symbolism, surrealism, or giant boots (although the ending with Tommy flying over the set is pretty awkward and out of place). Some of the set’s pinball-esque designs are rather poorly painted, but the overall structure allows for excellent scene transitions, and the functional scoreboard hovering over everything is quite nifty. It would be nice, though, for the ensemble to move the scenery instead of stage hands in black intruding upon the scene. Nonetheless, the show’s other qualities outshine its little flaws.
Jonathan Krouse as Tommy is exceptional in voice, movement and emotion, but really, the whole darn cast is exceptional. Director Maria Matters has assembled one of the best ensembles I’ve ever seen. These folks, successfully headed by vocal director Michael Davis, must have worked themselves stupid to have achieved this level of professionalism. Everyone on stage put forth an electric performance, particularly the principal dancers who really gave the audience quite an athletic show of skill and grace; choreographers Trish and Amy Roberds make every step on stage a delight to watch.
Also worthy of note is Evan Wallace (or Biff Tannen, it’s hard to tell) as Cousin Kevin for being the only person in a show set in England who speaks with an English accent. Mark Peed as Uncle Ernie also does a really top-notch job, but his character’s limp is distracting (unless this was an injury he was suffering through, in which, kudos for braving the pain, Mr. Peed).
Finally, I must stress just how talented the band is in this production. It’s a tightly woven musical monster that rocks the house.
Please, do not leave once the curtain call has finished; stay and enjoy the music for just another couple of minutes until the band strikes out its last chords. It’s worth it.