September 21, 2020

1995-02-28 – Nanaimo Daily News

1995 02 28 Nanaimo_Daily_News_Tue__Feb_28__1995_

New production
revives Tommy

TORONTO (CP) -— Twenty years
and two Tony Awards later, Cana-
dian director Des McAnufl is retur-
ningtohistheatricairoots.

With a big, flashy, hi.tech con-
temporary musical composed by a
world famous rock star, no less.

McAnuff, who studied theatre at
Ryerson University and began his
careerin'l‘omntointheeariylm
with such avant-garde original
works as Urbania and Leave it to
Beaver is Dead, is directing the
Canadian production of The Who’s
Tommy.

The $6 million musical, faithfully
adapted from Pete Townshend’s
1969 psychedelic rock opera about a
deaf, dumb and blind pinball
wizard, opens at the Elgin Theatre
onWednwday night.

“It’s a fantastic way to come
home. ,” says the 42- year-oid

director who was born 1n Princeton,
111., but spent his childhood in
Guelph,011t.

‘The mmmmm high
school teachers and the people who

supported me when I was kid, being
able to go and talk to the Ryerson

students and so on. . . . This trip is
real brainstem stuff.”

The welcome mat is out for
McAnuff in a big way.

Not only is he a hometown boy
who made good, but anticipation for
Tom y is high.

When Townshend, the legendary
windmill guitarist of The Who, orig-
inally released the band’s recording
of the rock opera it was considered
a “pop masterpiece” by the New
York Times.

Since then Tommy has gone
through various permutations —
everything from the 1971 dance
version by the Montreal-based Les
Grands ballets canadiens to Ken
Russell’s trippy 1975 movie with
Who singer Roger Daltry in the
starring role.

More recently, the Broadway

production won five Tony awards,

including one for McAnufl‘s direc-
tion. plus a Grammy for its original
castrecotding.

The musical also has a built-in
audience who know most at the
words to such songs as Pinball
Wizard, Acid Queen and See Me,
Feel Me.

“I think most at its reputation
really comes the orginal recording
and the bible for our production or
at least the point at departme was
theoriginalalbum,”says McAnuft.

“On the other hand, what's truly
exciting about this production, I
hope, is that I think it proves
beyond a shadow at a doubt that
Tommyisagreattheatrepiece.”

McAnuft‘ knows what he’s taking
aboutAftermovingtoNewYot-kin
1976, he’s never looked back.

His other Tony Award was for
directing the m5 musical Big River
and he has periodically returned to
Canada over the years to work at
Stratford.