'Tommy' Pinball Wizard Is Superior Rock Opera

By LYNDA MITCHELL, The Thomaston Express

THOMSATON - The Thomaston Opera House cast heralds another success with The Who's rock opera, "Tommy." Pete Townsend's musical masterpiece deals with a series of controversial themes that track the central character's (Tommy Walker) journey through a life of abuse.

The fast-paced movement of this musical focuses on a series of perfectly-timed transition scenes that provide the audience background information on Walker, prior to his final breakthrough to reality. The narrative lyrics define the obstacles in Walker's life that handicap him - as a small child he witnesses a murder, is psychologically and physically abused and suffers medical mistreatment until he becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It certainly sounds like all hope is lost, but Tommy pulls through to become a famous pinball wizard. A script is something that an accomplished and dynamic cast brings to life. That is precisely what happens during this performance under the artful direction of Sharon A. Wilcox. The band has been strategically placed to the left of the stage. Through Townsend's music they are an integral part of the action. As Mrs. Walker's (Bronwyn Hamill) powerful vocal delivery excites the audience and fills the theatre with remarkable sound as she sings to her lost son, "Tommy can you hear me? Can you feel me near you? Tommy can you feel me? Can I help to cheer you?"
Hamill's successful portrayal of Tommy's lamenting mother was verified during her final curtain call with an ecstatic response from the audience. As Hamill's husband, John Farias provides perfect vocal balance, and believable chemistry between a husband and wife, who are willing to try almost anything to save their son. Kyle Ryan Taylor is superb as Tommy Walker/narrator. Once the mirror is broken, Taylor transforms his character into a public figure - the pinball wizard who has undergone a miraculous cure. He tells his audience, "You'll feel me coming, a new vibration ... I'm a sensation."The explosive energy of these rock opera performers anchors the show in outstanding talent. Song and dance numbers tell the story as the musical intensity builds. The operatic delivery requires voices that just don't stop. Choreographer, John E. Carter, demonstrates his talent as he crafts the movement of accomplished dancers on the stage paralleling the frantic movement of the script. The audience is compelled to observe, analyze and judge, and the final judgment qualifies this performance as superior. If you haven't had the opportunity or time to attend a performance of "Tommy," now at the Opera House, make it a point to do so. The showmanship is impressive and the ambiance of the historic Thomaston Opera House is memorable."Tommy" final performances are this weekend April 29 and 30 at 8 p.m., and May 1 at 2 p.m. For tickets call the Box Office at 283-6250.

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