November 28, 2011

Concert #472 - The Who's Tommy at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre (June 28, 2008)

Inexplicably, it took me about seventeen years after Tommy's initial release in 1969 to finally "get the music", "get the heat" and "get the excitement" of what I now believe is the Who's best piece of work. My belated interest in Tommy was sparked by an all-star recording of the rock opera that came out in 1975, featuring an incredible line-up that included Pete Townshend, Sandy Denny, Steve Winwood, Richie Havens, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart, Maggie Bell, Richard Harris and Merry Clayton, with the powerful accompaniment of the London Symphony Orchestra and Chambre Choir. I discovered this album in 1986 and today I still feel its impact.

In 1994, when the original Broadway production came to Los Angeles, I went to see Tommy at the Universal Amphitheater not once, but twice, and each time it was pure bliss. Fourteen years later, Tommy came back for a three week engagement at Hollywood's Ricardo Montalban Theater and when I bought my tickets I pretty much knew that Tommy's latest incarnation would not measure up favorably against the 1994 production. Not that it mattered to me.

I went to the show with Ryan, my younger son, a huge Tommy fan himself. We had great seats in the fourth row, slightly off-center.

Tommy's 2008 line-up
Tommy - Aleks Pevec
Mrs. Walker - Alice Ripley
Acid Queen - Nona Hendryx
Sally Simpson - Jenna Leigh Green
Captain Walker - Tom Schmid
Cousin Kevin - PJ Griffith
Uncle Ernie - Hank Adams
The Hawker - Ronny Drayton

I was right with my initial assessment - Tommy 2008 wasn't quite as spectacular as Tommy 1994, but it still managed to be very enjoyable and not for a second did I regret spending the money. Aleks Pevec, who played the grown-up version of Tommy, was definitely the star of the show. Nona Hendryx, the former partner of Patti LaBelle, stood out as the Acid Queen. I also liked the Hawker, convincingly played by Ronny Drayton. After the show I learned that Alice Ripley (Mrs. Walker), had played the very same role as part of the original Broadway production in 1994.

Aleks Pevec as Tommy
The much-advertised high-definition 3D Sound, the new "revolutionary" audio system that came to us via Bose headsets placed at every seat, was not as earth-shattering as advertised. Still, I enjoyed the show very much and so did Ryan, we both went home happy. For a while I even considered going back for seconds, but eventually decided not to.

Tommy at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre (2008)
Tommy at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre (2008)
Alice Ripley as Mrs. Walker with the young version of Tommy
Tommy & Sally (Aleks Pevec & Jenna Leigh Green)
Tommy poster, photographed in the theater's loby
Sign photographed in the theater's loby
Hollywood's Ricardo Montalban Theater
Hollywood's Ricardo Montalban Theatre

No comments:

Post a Comment