'The Who's TOMMY' to Electrify Lyceum Stage this Summer

Tags: General News

Thursday, June 23, 2011 by Denise Scatena

SAN DIEGO - June 23, 2011 - San Diego REPertory Theatre (San Diego REP) in partnership with San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) presents "The Who's TOMMY," the world's first rock opera re-imagined for the 21st century, to kick-off the theatre's 36th season. San Diego REP's production of the Tony Award-winning stage version of one of the greatest rock albums in history will rock the Lyceum Stage. Previews begin July 16. Opening night is July 22 and runs through Aug. 14, 2011. Sam Woodhouse, San Diego REP co-founder and artistic director, will direct.

At the age of four, Tommy witnesses his father accidentally kill his mother's lover. Traumatized by the horror, Tommy turns "blind, deaf and dumb." His parents try every legal and illegal "cure" without success. Tommy remains unreachable until he discovers an old pinball machine. Tommy becomes a "pinball wizard" and is transformed into a spiritual guru. Tommy's magical journey from darkness to light is powered by some of the most legendary rock music of all time, including "See Me, Feel Me" and "Pinball Wizard."

"The most exhilarating music ever written." - Los Angeles Times

"If you don't go, you'll miss one of the theatrical wonders of our age." - Boston Herald

"I want the audience to take a wild and luscious ride on a wave of brilliant and intricate rock and roll music that will thrill them, surprise them and sweep them away," says Woodhouse. "We are now 20 years in the future since the original 'TOMMY' was created, let's see what we do in the 21st century as distinct from the 20th."

"The Who's TOMMY" was carefully chosen as the first production of San Diego REP's 36th season. "From the moment I saw B.Slade onstage in our production of 'The Princess and the Black-Eyed Pea' I knew that I wanted to find a show for him which could truly share his astonishing talents as a singer and actor," says Woodhouse. "Last fall, a light went on in my brain when I thought of 'TOMMY' and B.Slade; the second light went on when I realized this musical could also showcase the amazing talents of the performers from SCPA. Now these two lightning bolts of 'aha!' are about to become a reality."

Cast in the lead role of Tommy is San Diego native, B.Slade. The artist formerly known as Tonex, B.Slade is an eight-time Stellar Award winning and two-time Grammy nominated artist. He has been known to blend a "smorgasbord" of styles including pop, R&B, jazz, soul, funk, hip hop, rock, Latin, electro, punk and trance. He has starred on stage in "Alice in Wonderland," "Bye Bye Birdie," "Guys & Dolls," "Something's Rotten in the State of Denmark," "Black Nativity," and "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers." For his work in theatre, he won the 2008 Patté Award for Theatre Excellence Outstanding Performance for "Dreamgirls" as James "Thunder" Early (San Diego Musical Theatre), and the 2008 San Diego Critics Circle Craig Noel Award Outstanding Featured Performance In A Musical for "Dreamgirls" and the world premiere of "The Princess & the Black-Eyed Pea" (San Diego REP). B.Slade's new album, "Diesel," premieres in July 2011.

"The Who's TOMMY" was written by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff. Townshend was a member of The Who from 1962 to 1982. A Grammy and Academy Award nominated artist, he has written hundreds of songs, many of which have been chart hits. He has written and composed several major collections that have won intergenerational recognition; TOMMY is the best known. He has most recently been honored with the 1993 Tony Award for Best Original Score for TOMMY on Broadway. Active as a songwriter, performer and producer, he continues to work as an editor at Faber and Faber, which he joined in 1983. With The Who, Townshend was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. McAnuff received Tony Awards for his Broadway stagings of "Big River" in 1985 and "The Who's TOMMY" in 1993. He is artistic director of Stratford Shakespeare Festival and director emeritus of the La Jolla Playhouse where he was artistic director from its 1983 revival until 1994, during which time the theatre won more than 200 awards for excellence. San Diego REP's production of "The Who's TOMMY" is the first San Diego staging since its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in 1992.

The inter-generational mega-hit is also San Diego REP's second co-production with the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA). The supremely talented singers, dancers and musicians from SCPA will join a stellar cast of professional actors and singers directed by Woodhouse. "The students at SCPA come from a diversity of cultures that reflect who San Diego really is, representing a range of ethnicities that speak about our community," says Woodhouse. "This is important to San Diego REP; we want to put onstage people who look like the people who live in the city we call home. The students at SCPA are also extraordinarily talented as singers, dancers, actors and musicians," he continued. "Their energy, focus, and spirit are infectious and inspiring."

The first collaboration of San Diego REP and SCPA was met with rave reviews and critical success. Their production, the musical "Hairspray," was the first installment of the REP's 2010-2011 season, and was honored by the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle for Outstanding Resident Musical and Outstanding Choreography. Woodhouse was also nominated for Outstanding Direction of a Musical for "Hairspray."

Meet the cast members of "The Who's TOMMY":

Carey Rebecca Brown (Mrs. Walker) brings her talent for the first time to the Lyceum Stage in "The Who's TOMMY." Her experience is vast, with performances in the Broadway/Off-Broadway productions of the 2009 original revival cast of "Ragtime," "Candide" (NYCO), and "Greenwillow" (York Theatre). Her regional credits include "Little Shop of Horrors" (La Mirada), "Once On This Island" (Sacramento Music Circus & Bay Street Theatre), and "West Side Story" (Portland Center Stage).

Zachary Harrison (Captain Walker) is a recent MFA graduate of University of California San Diego's School of Theatre and Dance in conjunction with La Jolla Playhouse, where his credits include "The Threepenny Opera," "Revengers Tragedy," "As You Like It," "Kasamir & Karolin," "Camino Real," and "Danton's Death." His off-Broadway and regional credits include "Angry Young Women in Low-Rise Jeans with High Class Issues" (Players Theatre), "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (La Jolla Playhouse) and "Richard III" (Intiman Theatre, Seattle). This is his first role with San Diego REP.

Victor Hernandez (Uncle Ernie) made his San Diego REPertory Theatre debut as Corny Collins in "Hairspray." His recent credits include "Fran

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