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BWW Review: THE WHO'S TOMMY at Titusville Playhouse

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A visually (and emotionally) stimulating, energetic and engaging musical that simply rocks.

BWW Review: THE WHO'S TOMMY at Titusville Playhouse With one of the more memorable rock and roll scores of the 20th century, THE WHO'S TOMMY has been entertaining, exciting, confounding and stimulating listeners for over 50 years. And with its current production of this iconic score (now full-fledged musical), Titusville Playhouse thrills, challenges and delivers an electric and energetic two hours of theatrical magic that simply rocks.

BWW Review: THE WHO'S TOMMY at Titusville Playhouse THE WHO'S TOMMY has been on quite an "Amazing Journey" since its debut in 1969. First as a concept album by the rock band, The Who, then the memorable Ken Russell film that gave us a bold, acid-fueled view of the story (and not to mention Elton John in serious platform shoes), a reimagined concert tour in the eighties, then the hit Broadway musical shepherded by Des McAnuff in 1993 (of which, Titusville's Executive Artistic Director, Steven Heron, mentions in his program note, had a profound impact on him when it premiered).

BWW Review: THE WHO'S TOMMY at Titusville Playhouse The musical tells the tale of young Tommy Walker, who, after seeing a singular violent act retreats into a world without sight, sound, or touch. His condition baffles his parents and leads them to explore treatment after treatment, becoming increasingly desperate as the years go by. All along, the world is fascinated by the boy's condition - some with pity, others with less noble intentions. Eventually, Tommy breaks the bonds of his condition and is heralded by the masses for his miraculous recovery, which is not without its own challenges. THE WHO'S TOMMY is a weighty tale of internal struggle, of the power of words, of those who might take advantage of the defenseless, of society's fascination (and sometimes obsession) with the miraculous, and how sometimes truth is not always what we see in the mirror. Underscoring Tommy's journey is the music of The Who, which ensures the story moves forward with urgency and energy.


BWW Review: THE WHO'S TOMMY at Titusville Playhouse Steven Heron's direction is well-conceived and fast-paced, critical for a rock opera such as THE WHO'S TOMMY, since the action (and music) never really stops. He uses the levels of the stage quite well and the center ramp to strong effect - creating a lot more space for the cast, especially in numbers like "Sparks". Mr. Heron also leverages the cast as critical levers in moving the story forward - swiftly bringing set pieces on and off and illustrating the many people who come in and out of Tommy's live.

BWW Review: THE WHO'S TOMMY at Titusville Playhouse Speaking of those people, bringing the characters of THE WHO'S TOMMY to vivid life is a nimble and skilled cast of 21 actors. As the narrator, Tommy, Jordyn Linkous is fantastic. He commands the stage each time he appears and delivers an electric performance of each of Tommy's iconic numbers. He has a mysterious presence about him that works perfectly in this role. As Captain and Mrs. Walker, Tommy's parents, real-life couple Vince and Jennifer Wingerter are great. Their concern for Tommy and the stress they are under throughout most of the play comes through well. The rest of the cast is strong as well. Jocelyn Evans thrills as the Gypsy, delivering a show-stopping version of "Acid Queen"(harkening back to her brilliant performance earlier this year as Paradice in Titusville's BKLYN), Christopher DeJongh is disturbing as the sinister Uncle Ernie, and Cooper Mangini and Gabriel Denninghoff (who play Tommy at age 10 and 4) deliver a strong, silent counterpoint to Jordyn Linkous' grown up narrator. Worthy of special note is Luke Atkison who not only plays a deliciously devilish Cousin Kevin, he also serves as choreographer, and scenic, lighting and video designer. His choreography is fresh, exciting and thrilling, especially the first act closer, "Pinball Wizard" and his scenic design is a slick, black and white, multi-level ramped setting that feels like the inside of a giant pinball machine (complete with bold arrows and flashing lights). Add to that dramatic touches of color and thoughtfully designed video backdrops (on Titusville's LED wall) make Mr. Atkinson's contribution to this production a key part of its success.

The costumes, by Jordyn Linkous - another cast member wearing multiple hats - are colorful and functional - conveying the essence of each character. Standout costumes include the Gypsy's shiny and sensuous coat and Tommy's stark white ensemble. Spencer Crosswell's music direction (and sound design) bring to life the Who's brilliant score through both the talented cast and a small but mighty band.

Overall, Titusville Playhouse's production of THE WHO'S TOMMY is something not to miss. It is a visually (and emotionally) stimulating, energetic and engaging rock opera that is brought to life by a talented cast in a creatively conceived (and beautifully realized) setting. If you are a fan of the original album, or just simply enjoy musicals that rock - THE WHO's TOMMY at Titusville Playhouse may be just want the doctor ordered.

BWW Review: THE WHO'S TOMMY at Titusville Playhouse

THE WHO'S TOMMY presented by Titusville Playhouse runs through September 26th. Tickets start at $25. Performances take place at the Titusville Playhouse, 301 Julia Street, Titusville, FL 32796. Tickets can be purchased by visiting https://titusvilleplayhouse.com or calling (321) 268-1125.

All Photos by Niko Stamos, Titusville Playhouse

Top Photo: Jordyn Linkous as Tommy, Cooper Mangini as Middle Tommy and the Ensemble of The Who's TOMMY

Middle Photo 1: Jocelyn Evans as the Gypsy and Cooper Mangini as Middle Tommy

Middle Photo 2: Jordyn Linkous as Tommy, Gabriel Denninghoff as Young Tommy, Jennifer Wingerter as Mrs. Walker and Vince Wingerter as Captain Walker

Middle Photo 3: Luke Atkison as Cousin Kevin, Cooper Mangini as Middle Tommy and the Ensemble of The Who's TOMMY

Middle Photo 4: Jordyn Linkous as Tommy and the Ensemble of The Who's TOMMY

Bottom Photo: Jordyn Linkous as Tommy


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