Thursday, March 04, 2010

Who NU, Who-Who, Who-Who

Theater Review

The Who's Tommy
Josephine Louis Theater
Northwestern University, Evanston

Last summer, I saw and raved about a really good local production of Tommy, done at the shoebox-sized Circle Theatre in Forest Park. I probably didn't need to see it again so soon, but as I love the source material, saw a compelling video clip (below) on Northwestern's website, got a ticket for just $10.50 through HotTix--despite a new and silly service charge applied even for in-person HotTix purchases--, enticed a friend to go with me and only had to drive 15 minutes to reach the theater, I couldn't resist.

As I would've guessed, it was an ideal show for a college theater department to present, and the exuberant performers and musician made for a really fun and fine rendition. The second act lagged a little, and despite some nice staging choices made by a director with more room to work with, Northwestern's Tommy gets a lower grade from me than Circle's.

But what made the night a bit more intriguing was that it came sandwiched between seeing true Broadway legends--Patti Lupone & Mandy Patinkin Tuesday night; Stephen Sondheim speaking at the Harris Theatre tonight--it was fun to see fresh-faced college kids with a similar love of performing, some who may very well wind up on the Great White Way, like numerous NU theater grads before them.

The Who's Tommy to be Performed at Northwestern Feb. 18 to March 7 from Northwestern News on Vimeo.


One small piece of Who esoterica that dawned on me, especially as this production of Tommy was preceded by a small snippet of Baba O'Riley: Near the end of Tommy, including the original 1969 recorded rock opera--which Pete Townshend amazingly composed when he was just 24 years old--a love interest for Tommy is introduced named Sally Simpson. She never becomes much of a character, but The Who's next studio album, Who's Next, opens with Baba O'Riley, in which Roger Daltrey sings these Townshend lyrics: "Sally, take my hand, we'll travel south crossland..." Would I be correct to infer that "Sally" is a reference back to Sally Simpson of Tommy? If anyone knows, please comment.

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