Theater Review: "The Who's Tommy" By DOMA Theatre Company
The rock opera is certainly a challenging show, that cannot be denied. But unfortunately, there is so much more that is wrong with DOMA's production than there is that is right. The show follows the life and times of Tommy Walker, a young boy (Donovan Blaise) who sees his father kill his mother's lover. His parents tell him, "you didn't hear it, you didn't see it, you won't tell nothin' to no one," prompting him to self-induced deafness, blindness, and an inability to speak. Throughout his life he is plagued by tormentors, but finds solace in a pinball machine, becoming the renowned "Pinball Wizard."
Jess Ford's adult Tommy is by far the highlight of the show. Ford has a strong rock voice, which works well with The Who's score. His songs and his seemingly endless energy really liven up the show. Karl Maschek is also good as Tommy's creepy Uncle Ernie. The show's other strong point is in its musical direction, by Chris Raymond, but this comes at the expense of pretty much everything else in the show. Unfortunately, the production as a whole is sloppy and does not seem ready for an audience. In addition to the flat acting and inconsistent accents (why are Tommy's internal monologues in an American accent, yet he speaks, and occasionally sings to his fans, with a British accent?), most of the cast looks uncomfortable on stage. This could come from lack of preparation, but one could hope they would be more excited about performing the show. Additionally, under Hallie Baran's direction, the story, which is not cohesive to begin with, lacks an undercurrent of motivation that could connect the various pieces of the book.
On a more technical level, Angela Todaro's choreography is executed with varying levels of success, and many actors were unlit for long stretches of time, while the sound levels seemed to err on the side of the band being too loud for the lyrics to be comprehensible. This all combined to create the effect of an unrehearsed, unprepared show being presented to audiences as a final product.
I can only hope that after more performances, and hopefully more rehearsal, the show will be more ready for a paying audience, but as it appeared on opening night, there is still a lot of work to be done.
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