“From you I get the story”

July 30, 2013

It was understudy day at Tommy (from Captain Walker on down), and I’m amazed at how many of the players were making their Stratford debuts (all the way up to Robert Markus, Tommy himself), but Pete and Des’ show is resilient and vivid.

Everything’s been consolidated and condensed from the album and from Russell’s sprawling movie. With a few decades’ distance and the partnership of Des, Townshend’s vague story comes into focus. The relationships between the 40s, 50s and 60s, and between celebrity and spirituality, get more clear.

The direction and choreography, and lots of McAnuff’s team, are from the Broadway run in the 1990s. New to this production are some incredible visual effects, including the use of live video shot by cast members (and yes, Des directed that 2009 Macbeth with those stunning videos!).

I think the best gig I’ve ever seen on a Stratford stage is riding a spinning, bumping, sparking, flaming pinball machine.

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