September 25, 2020

1972-02-24 – The Los Angeles Times

1972 02 24 The_Los_Angeles_Times_Thu__Feb_24__1972_ 4

ROCK OPERA—Tommy (Ted Neeley) is con-
.ronted by the Acid Queen (Annette Cardono} in

the th5 "Tommy" at the Aquarius Theater
Times photo by Kathleen Ballard

MUSIC REVIEW
Another Version
of ths ”Tommy’—

BY J OHN ROCKWELL '

Times Staff Writer

The production of the Who‘s rock opera. "Tom-
my" which opened at the Aquarius Theater Tues.-
day night will probably find sufficient audience to
keep it around for awhile.

There will be some who will respond to the mo-
dicum of enerc. ' it manages to work up at the end.
Others Will welcome it as a nonthreatening bridge
between musicals and hard rock.A11d still others,
younger may be thrilled simply by the notion that
somebody has taken the trouble to embody "their"
music in a stage production.

St111,1t should and could have had so much more
life and imagination.

That ”Tommy" 15 itself a masterpiece of the rock
opera genre, a genuine dramatic statement in an
unadulterated. uncompromising rock idiom, there
can be little doubt .

Curious Amalgam

But its curious amalgam of concrete, persona-
lized specifics, childlikec verse and mystical messa-
gizing demands a sensitive yet healthily theatrical
realization. And the Widespread familiarity of the
Who 5 own recorded version imposes on any stage
production a dual musical task, to be simul-
taneoust imitative and excitin".

Dramatically, the Aquarius production uses the
same format as the amateur USC version of last
year. There is still the same multilevel mirrored
set of platforms and suspended hexagonal screenS.
the same oddlytimid deployment of'film'and the
same dogt, rvecfily literal and essentiafly unfocused

”'conception' by J oel Rosenzweig, now listed as co-
director of the Aquarius version.

It is all executed with 1:11- greater slickness and
professionalism than at USC. But while one ad-v

‘ mines the sleekness of the sets and the pizazz of the

costumes, one regrets the near eradication of the
communal spirit awhich occasionally surfaced at
USC, and which pervaded the productions at Lone
Mountain College in San Francisco and at the
South Coast Repertory Theater in Costa Mesa.

Fevered Gyrations __
Despite the fevered gyrations of a vastly talent-

ed group of dancers, codirector and choreographer

Claude Thompson’s overlay of brassy Vegas, TV-
variety-shov , jazz-dance routines either echoes
banal details in the text or coe: {1513 alongside that
teXt irrelevantly.

The whole looks hollow, lacking not only the
communality of enthusiastic amateurism, but the
sort of inspired theatricality which distinguished
the Seattle Opera's similarly professional, even
more lavish production last spring.

VIusicaHy, arranger and conductor Denny Ram
dell sticks reasqnably close to the Whos sound,

' Please Turn to Page 23, 001. 1