Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Who’s Tommy

Music & Lyrics by Pete Townshend

The Who's Tommy by Pete Townshend
The Who's Tommy by Pete Townshend

Book by Des McAnuff & Pete Townshend

Directed by Jeffrey Cass

Musical Direction by Carolyn Brady Riley

Choreographed by Kevin Bellie

At Circle Theatre

Fine production values propels Tommy

Circle Theatre specializes in remounting seldom produced Broadway musicals and their current show, The Who’s Tommy, is a high energy superbly danced pop/rock opera. What marks this fast moving show are the excellent production values. The extraordinary video projections (by Kevin Bellie) with the stunning lighting (by John Horan) and the fine sound design (by Peter J. Storms) on Bob Knuth’s set give Tommy an excellent platform. The real star(s) of Tommy, despite the terrific work from Tom McGunn as Tommy, are the dancers who have worked choreographer Kevin Bellie’s smart rock routines to manic perfection. With this show, the dancers, singers and orchestra (under Caroilyn Brady Riley’s music direction) dominate over the score and lyrics. Townshend and McAnuff’s provocative book works nicely in act one but fizzles in act two but it doesn’t matter since Tommy is so energetic and zestful that it pleases.

After witnessing a brutal crime, young Tommy is so traumatized that he is rendered mute. His family tries to get Tommy medical help but to no avail. He is molested by his uncle and misunderstood by his family. He turns to pinball as his escape from reality–he becomes a Wizard at the electronic game.


When is mother becomes so frustrated with him that she pushes him–he is suddenly cured and is now able to speak.  In no time Tommy becomes both a Pinball Wizard and a rock star. This rock opera features a wall-to-wall The Who rock music featuring tunes such as “Pinball Wizard,” ” Sensation,” “Acid Queen” as well as “We’re Not Going to Take It” and “I’m Free.”


This well sung show was highlighted by the strong vocals form Eric Lindahl and Tom McGunn. For me the dancers made this show a treat. Kevin Bellie gets the pop/rock score to move with energy. Tommy is  a treat for those that love The Who’s music and those who enjoy high spirited dancing.


Tom Williams

Jeff Recommended

At Circle Theatre, 7300 W. Maddison, Forets Park, IL, call 708-771-0700, tickets $20 – $24, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 20 minutes with intermission, through July 19, 2009

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