Gallery Players does such a bang-up job with “The Who’s Tommy” that you’ll be asking, “‘Tommy,’ can I see you — again?”
Park Slope hasn’t rocked this hard since Life In a Blender played Barbes!
Admittedly, my taste tends to favor the refined art of the rock opera over the more pedestrian genre of Broadway musicals. As such, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the Who’s “Tommy” rather than “The Who’s Tommy,” the subsequent musical adaptation.
But now that the Gallery Players nearly brought down its 14th Street playhouse, I’m re-evaluating that position.
The success of the show, which runs through May 24, starts with the live band playing the coming-of-age soundtrack from the Who’s 1969 album about the deaf, dumb and blind kid who sure plays a mean pinball.
The four-piece band is tighter than the blaring, sloppy British rockers — and that’s a good thing when staging a synchronized musical with lots of dance numbers.
Just like the tunes that inspired it, the show chronicles the title character’s descent into a world of his despair after witnessing his father kill his mother’s lover upon returning home from World War II. For years afterward, Tommy is in a psychosomatic condition in which he can’t see, speak or hear, but overcomes the odds and abuse from vile relatives to become a celebrity pinball champion fueled by a preternatural skill. Eventually, he breaks out of the spell.
The cast belted out the classic rock anthems. The Gypsy (Marcia Henderson) sings a sultry version of “Acid Queen” rivaling Tina Turner’s own rendition. Tommy (Brett Travis) has an outstanding, crystal clear voice.
The show suffered some minor technical difficulties. The amplification system was not always in sync, as the rocking and rolling band occasionally drowned out singers, but nothing that couldn’t be ironed out before I see this show again.
And I will.
“The Who’s Tommy” at the Gallery Players [199 14th St., between Fourth and Fifth avenues, (718) 832-0617] through May 24. Tickets $18.
©2009 Community News Group
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