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

Tags: General News

Thursday, June 23, 2011 by

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 "Frank Wildhorn's Bonnie & Clyde" (La Jolla Playhouse), "Sweeney Todd" (Musical Theatre West), and "Scarlet Pimpernel" (Welk Resorts). Hernandez has toured the United States performing theatre for young audiences and studied improv and sketch comedy with The Groundlings in Los Angeles.

Anise Ritchie (Acid Queen, Specialist Assistant, Ensemble) is no stranger to San Diego stages. Her regional credits include "Leap of Faith" (Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre), "Nightmare Alley" (Geffen Playhouse), "Suds" (Starlight Musical Theatre), "Sammy" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" (Old Globe Theatre), and "Boomers" (Lambs Players Theatre). She has appeared in many television commercials and has recorded many radio spots.

Michelle Pereira (Minister, Mrs. Simpson, Ensemble) just finished a year long run with "miXtape" (Lamb's Player's Theatre) at the Horton Grand Theatre. Pereira was also in the national and international tours of "TOMMY," "Fame," "Nunsense I & II," "Grease" and "The Music Man." She is proud to be a part of the world premieres of several productions including "The Ten Commandments" opposite Val Kilmer (BCBG). Her television credits include "Law & Order" and the last episode of "Friends." She recorded her first album, "In My Life/Na Minha Vida" which received national and international recognition.

Louis Pardo (Cousin Kevin) credits include the national tour of "Jesus Christ Superstar," and regionally "The Who's TOMMY," "Evita," "miXtape," "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," "Altar Boyz," "Peter Pan," "The Full Monty," "All Shook Up," "Ragtime" and "Lucky Stiff."

"The Who's TOMMY" is directed by Sam Woodhouse, with choreography by Javier Velasco. Steve Gunderson is musical director. Woodhouse is the co-founder and artistic director of San Diego REPertory Theatre. Woodhouse co-founded San Diego REP with D.W. Jacobs in 1976, and has since served as its producing and artistic director. He has worked has a director, producer and actor on more than 180 REP productions. His most recent directorial work with San Diego REP includes "In the Next Room or the vibrator play," "Superior Donuts," "Hairspray," "boom," "The Threepenny Opera," "Water & Power," and "The Clean House."

Velasco has choreographed and/or staged numerous productions for San Diego REP including "A Christmas Carol," "Cabaret," "Suds," "Corridos Re-Mix," "Zoot Suit," "Bandido," "The Threepenny Opera," and many others. An expert in musical theatre and period styles, he has staged pieces as diverse as "Hair," "Oklahoma" and "The Mikado," both nationally and internationally. As the artistic director of the San Diego Ballet, he has choreographed more than 70 ballets for the company since its inception, including the company's signature piece, "Mambomania," to the music of Perez Prado.

Gunderson was music director, arranger and co-creator (with Kathy Najimy) for "Back to Bacharach & David," recently revived at the Music Box Theatre in Hollywood with the participation of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. He arranged the score for "Suds" which broke box office records at The Old Globe Theatre. Gunderson composed the score for Velasco's "The Brontes," several versions of "A Christmas Carol" at San Diego REP, and wrote the award-winning score for the musical "Dixie Highway." Gunderson is an award-winning performer as well. In 2010, a special "Actor of the Year" award went to Gunderson for his performances in "Sweeney Todd" (Cygnet), "Hairspray" (San Diego REP), "Into the Woods" (New Village Arts) and "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (Old Globe).

"The Who's TOMMY" runs from July 16 through Aug. 14, 2011. Opening Night is Fri., July 22. San Diego REP will host Surround Events to enhance the performance experience for guests. These discussions, performances and interactive events related to the themes of "The Who's TOMMY" will be held in the Lyceum Lobby before selected performances. Surround Events are free and open to the public. A complete list of events is posted at www.sdrep.org.

San Diego REP's box office is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. on non-performance days and noon until curtain on performance days. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets at a discounted rate. Four hours of free parking at Horton Plaza is available for patrons who validate at the Lyceum Theatre. For more information, please visit www.sdrep.org.

Subscriptions are priced from $98 to $303. Senior and military discounts are available. San Diego REP offers subscribers an extensive package of benefits, including discount prices, free ticket exchange privileges; discounts on individual tickets; and discounts at local restaurants. Premier seating guarantees seating in the best 100 sets in both theatres and includes free drink coupons for the season.

About San Diego REPertory Theatre

San Diego REPertory Theatre (San Diego REP) produces intimate, exotic, provocative theatre. We promote a more inclusive community through vivid works that nourish progressive political and social values and celebrate the multiple voices of our region. San Diego REPertory Theatre feeds the curious soul.

To learn more about San Diego REPertory Theatre, visit www.sdrep.org. Join us on Facebookand follow us on Twitter.

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San Diego Repertory Theatre
in partnership with
San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts

"The Who's TOMMY"

Music and Lyrics by Pete Townshend
Book by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff
Directed by Sam Woodhouse
Choreography by Javier Velasco
Musical Direction by Steve Gunderson
Starring B.Slade as "Tommy"

July 16 to Aug. 14, 2011
Opening Night: Fri., July 22 at 8 p.m.
Lyceum Stage

Performances are Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays at 7 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Please visit www.sdrep.org for specific days and times.

The Lyceum Theatre
79 Horton Plaza
San Diego, Calif. 92101-6144

Ticket Prices: $37 to $57 (Student Discount $18)
Discounts for groups, seniors and military also available.
Lyceum Box Office (619) 544-1000
Tickets available online at www.sdrep.org.

Surround Events Schedule for "The Who's TOMMY"
Admission to the Surround Events is free and open to the public. To stay for the production, purchase tickets at the Lyceum Box Office.

In the Gallery July 15 to August 7
Shutterpunk: A Collection of Very Loud Photographs
Opening Reception July 16, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Shutterpunk is a visual journey to the front of the stage where screaming guitars, pounding drums and high-decibel voices challenge even the stoutest eardrums. Local photographer and filmmaker Eric Rife, who has been documenting the legends of punk, rock and soul for over 25 years, gives the viewer an all-access pass to performances soaked in sweat, blood and beer. Also on display are photos, fliers and film clips from the upcoming documentary, "Garageland," the story of San Diego's punk, mod and garage music scenes.

Tuesday, July 19 at 6 p.m. (prior to the 7 p.m. show)
Hear the Airport, Feel the Airport, See the Airport

Think traveling is tough? Try doing it without the luxury of sight or hearing. Working with the FAA Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Justice, Colm Marmion is tasked with ensuring that San Diego International Airport (SDIA) is accessible to all guests. Learn how airports manage the experience of those with disabilities. Hear examples of how people with disabilities overcome obstacles associated with navigating public spaces and activities.

Wednesday, July 20 at 6 p.m. (prior to the 7 p.m. show)
Who Influenced Who

San Diego music journalist Bart Mendoza hosts a conversation with distinguished music experts David Peck, from renowned music footage archive, Reelin' in the Years Productions, and Mike Stax of the music quarterly "Ugly Things," as they discuss the bands and musicians who influenced The Who and the ones who were influenced by The Who.

Thursday, July 21 at 7 p.m. (prior to the 8 p.m. show)
Talkin' Theatre with Todd

"The Who's TOMMY" has some of the most famous music ever written. REP Associate Artistic Director Todd Salovey interviews the talented leaders of the superb orchestra performing in the REP's production. Steve Gunderson, one of the region's most popular musical theatre performers and music directors, talks about bringing the vocal arrangements to life. Tamara Paige, musical wizard of The San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, shares her insider's notes on making the band kick with The Who's music.

Thursday, July 28 at 7 p.m. (prior to the 8 p.m. show)
Sam's Salon: The Spiritual Meets the Sensual

Ludwig von Beethoven said, "Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual." Was rock icon Pete Townshend channeling Beethoven when he composed "Tommy?" Find out as REP Artistic Director Sam Woodhouse hosts a conversation about opera and Rock n' Roll with two music pros: composer/pianist/arts educator Nicolas Reveles, Geisel director of education and outreach for San Diego Opera, and lyricist/composer/singer/rock musician Korrie Paliotto, expert on the birth of the rock opera.

Friday, July 29 at 7 p.m. (prior to the 8 p.m. show)
The Weener Pigs Perform Rock Classics

Get warmed up for the music of The Who with classic rock cover band The Weener Pigs, who have been rocking San Diego stages since 1990 with the songs of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, etc. The Weener Pigs are Chris Brown (horns), Adam Harris (lead vocals/blues harp), Chris Harris (bass), Jim Jones (drums), Tracy Rojas (rhythm guitar), Craig Schindler (horns), and Paul Thompson (lead guitar).

Saturday, July 30 at 1 p.m. (prior to the 2 p.m. matinee)
Pinball Wizard Tournament

The pinball experts from San Diego Pinball Club are bringing their machines down to the Lyceum for a one-day mini-tournament! Play for free one hour before the matinee and one hour after the show. San Diego Pinball Club was created in 2009 for those who like to play pinball, talk about pinball, collect pinball, restore pinball, or sell pinball. Come down and show off your pinball wizardry! Special thanks to Matt Topper and San Diego Pinball Club, who have generously loaned pinball machines to the REP during the run of "The Who's TOMMY."

Thursday, August 4 at 7 p.m. (prior to the 8 p.m. show)
Extraordinary Children

When we judge those with limited communication skills on their looks or demeanor, we often miss the potential that lies beneath the surface. The Training Education and Research Institute TERI, Inc. of Oceanside has been working to accommodate the needs of those with developmental and learning disabilities since 1980. Dr. Krysti DeZonia, Director of Education and Research for TERI, Inc., is joined by special guests Jimmy Aykroid and his mother Mary Aykroid as they share the successes and challenges of living with autism. The power of the human condition is what "The Who's TOMMY" is all about, and it is what ultimately levels the playing field in life for all of us.

Friday, August 5 (after the 8 p.m. show)
Meet the Artists

Stick around after the performance for a revealing and unpredictable conversation with the artists who have brought "The Who's TOMMY" to life.

Sunday, August 7 at 6 p.m. (prior to the 7 p.m. show)
The Legacy of Rock Movies

The Who's iconic rock operas "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia" revolutionized the music film genre. San Diego music and movie experts D.A. Kolodenko and Beth Accomando break down the essential films that defined each generation of rock music, from "A Hard Day's Night" to "Hairspray." Accomando is the KPBS film critic and author of the blog, "Cinema Junkie." She's also a regular contributor to Revolt in Style Magazine and About.com Hollywood Movies. Kolodenko is a columnist and feature writer for San Diego CityBeat, a contributor to The San Diego Reader and Moving Image, and has drummed with many San Diego bands, including The Tell-Tale Hearts, Shambles, Swinging Gates and most recently The Amandas.

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Suite 201
San Diego, CA 92110
ph:  619-232-0222