He’s a pinball wizard…
From Barry Manilow lyrics to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s furry feline friends, there have certainly been some interesting choices of topic for our glitzy musical theatre. No more so than rock musical Tommy, currently playing at the Greenwich Theatre, London. The show takes its deaf, dumb and blind protagonist from The Who’s classic Pinball Wizard and produces their formidable Tommy album live on stage.
Hitting the theatres way before the likes of American Idiot or Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy was a groundbreaking piece in its original form and is now given a fresh and exciting revival by Michael Strassen. Slightly put back at first, we soon got used to the unique style of this production and we were toe tapping away and rooting for Ashley Birchall’s endearing Tommy long before the midway cocktail run.
Stylish and slick, Strassen places the story in a white wash wonderland reminiscent of 70s glam rock that could also be a timeless dystopian future. Complimenting the musical underscore to great effect, Strassen tells this obscure story clearly and fluidly with the help of the functional design and sparky cast.
The small ensemble of performers brought energy in abundance and soared through the roof with some fantastic rock vocals. Smaller moments worth mentioning include Carly Burn’s sensational Acid Queen and James Sinclair as Captain Walker, providing gravitas beyond his years. Nevertheless, all the cast had time to shine in Mark Smith’s show stopping choreography. Drawing on a Fosse inspired style, Smith’s work compliments the narrative, aiding the story whilst giving ample room for entertainment and joyous fun. The cast executed his technical movement brilliantly, keeping us truly engaged in those longer musical breaks.
Credit is also due to the band doing sufficient justice to The Who and bringing the house down to the very last note. Very rarely do we see an audience staying until the end of the play-out, let alone on their feet clapping, dancing and cheering like we’re at Wembley. But with the talent and energy on stage, rest assured we could have been!
Ticket information for Tommy can be found here.
GT gives Tommy – 4/5
Words Tom Cox