October 1, 2020

2015-01-19 – Chicago Tribune

2015 01 19 Chicago_Tribune_Mon__Jan_19__2015_ 2

A 10- --year -old version of Tommy, portrayed by Ricky Falbo

center, plays a mean pinball in the production.

Window into
The Who

The Who, from Page 7

detail before actually writ—
ing the music, since it
locked him in).

But “Tommy” was not
conceived like a traditional
musical: It breaks all kinds
of rules, creating short-fuse
characters like the Acid
Queen and Sally Simpson,
mostly to serve single num-
bers. It didn’t become an
actual Broadway musical
until 1991.

The great strength of J im
Corti’s excellent — and
truly spectacular — produc-
tion of “The Who’s
Tommy” is that it manages
to embrace the requisite
theatrical narrative while
better encapsulating those
multi—pronged vibrations
that so interested Town—
shend nearly half a century
ago, better than any other
“Tommy” I’ve seen.

And that includes Des
McAnuff’s original Broad—
way production, which he
updated at the Stratford
Festival in 2013. That show
better cranked up the vol-
ume for vocal excitement
and general rocking—out
purposes — Aurora plays it
safe there — but die—hard
fans of The Who will likely
see things in the Paramount
show that they’ve not seen
therein before.

That has a lot to do with
the complex visual envi—
ronment for the show,
mostly a combination of the
work of Corti, Linda Bu—
chanan, Mike 'Dutaj (whose
projections always look
better at the Paramount
than anywhere else) and
Greg Hofmann. Cor’d’s
storytelling is quite specific
where needed — you get
why Tommy is the deaf,
dumb and blind kid much
better than before — and,
frankly, I was left with what
felt like new insights into
the devastating impact and
aftermath of World War II
on parenting. As the Walk-
ers, the excellent David
Schlumpf and Hillary Mar-

When: Through Feb. 15

Where: Paramount
Theatre, 23 East Galena
Boulevard, Aurora

Running time: 2 hours

Tickets: $41-$54 at
630—896-6666 or
paramountaurora.com

ren seem like caring folk,
buffeted by circumstance.
The choreography, by
Brock Clawson, captures
that same sweet spot.
McAnuff’s production,
which had much to ad—
mire, was more in tune
with the dark side of the
Tommy moon. When you
watch Devin DeSantis in
the title role in Aurora —
along with the two great
young Tommys, Peyton
Owen and Ricky Falbo —
you feel the pinball icon’s
vulnerability far more.
The famous “Fiddle
About” number, in which
Wicked Uncle Ernie has
his way with the kid, is,
thanks to Jake Klinkham—
mer and some nightmarish
vibrations, you might say,
newly impactful.
“Tommy” is not easy to
play (who wants to re-
create Keith Moon’s drum-
ming?), and the full or—
chestra, under the direc—
tion of Tom Vendafreddo,
is impressive, even if 10
more percent of abandon
would add to the whole.
Actually, I felt the same
way about the singing, its
uniform ensemble quality

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Chicago Tribune | Arts+Entertainment | Section 4 | Monday,January 19,2015 5

LIZ LAUREN PHOTOS

Jim Corti’s storytelling gives fresh insights into why Tommy, played by Devin DeSantis, is the “deaf, dumb and blind” kid.

notwithstanding. As the this is one great “Tommy,”
Acid Queen, Meghan Mur— writ large and as much for
phy has particular license the eyes and heart as for the
to let it further rip, but ears. You wish Townshend
more intense release would could be there.
help throughout.

I suppose that is a sig— cjonesS@tribune.com

Twitter @ChrisJonesTrib

nificant quibble, but, still,

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