Photography by Greg Autry*
Children’s Musical Theater “Mainstage,” presents `The Who’s Tommy’ to celebrate its 50th anniversary season at the Montgomery Theater in downtown San Jose, California. Reimagined and reinvented by the creative team of Kevin R. Hauge, Ian Leonard, and Joey Dippel, the show cast local actors ages 14 to 20 who blow the doors of this famous and first, Rock Opera.
Lead Actors on the night I photographed the show included Armand Akbari as Tommy, Tyler Harding as Captain Walker, and Ande Burns as Mrs. Walker. Also as ten year old Tommy, Elijah Seid-Valencia,who was masterful in a mostly silent yet difficult role.
There have been several types of productions for Tommy over the years; The original 1969 Rock Album with music and lyrics by Pete Townshend, Film, and various stage productions have all centered around a generally accepted “theme.”
The reinvigorated CMT Production of The Who’s Tommy is a stirring story of hope, healing and the human spirit. After witnessing a murder as a young child, Tommy becomes traumatized and slips into a catatonic state. His troubling story is made worse as he is abused by sadistic relatives and neighbors, the story line poignantly displaying the cruelty to which many mentally ill and handicapped people suffer.
Tommy’s life is saved when he discovers an uncanny knack for the game of pinball. He rises to international superstardom, and inspires people all over the world. In 1969 the thought of someone gaining stardom by playing a game was outrageous and actually incomprehensible. With stardom today garnered with all types of Games as well as Social Media, the story’s appeal gives this show a newly found cross-generational appeal.
With Live Orchestra and inspiring vocals by all the performers the show’s score of Tony Award-winning songs like “See Me, Feel Me”, and the instantly recognizable “Pinball Wizard” along with the powerful “The Acid Queen” leave the audience pumped up, and hopefully more aware of how we treat others in our society.
CMT is an amazing organization here in San Jose, and they are proud of their long history and prouder still to boast that they cast everyone who auditions. That is an amazing, and rewarding feat, which I believe that the Director Kevin R Hauge along with Ian Leonard and Joey Dippel are to be congratulated. As a little treat, if you look at the photos in this article here carefully, you will see the Director Kevin Hauge, on stage, teaching, as a rehearsal was in progress.
I urge everyone to check out CMT in San Jose, it is truly a wonderful theater experience of the highest quality in production values. It’s a fun, delightful evening. Please check out the website for show times and to get your tickets in advance.
CMT San Jose Mainstage is a nationally acclaimed theater company honored 10 times by the NEA and the oldest operating performing arts organization in San Jose. Now in its 50th season, CMT remains committed to train and educate today’s youth through musical theater, to set and achieve high artistic and personal goals, and to inspire them to become exemplary artists, patrons and citizens of tomorrow. Inclusiveness and quality are the two touchstones of CMT’s vision. CMT is dedicated to providing the highest possible caliber of musical and theatrical training to children from ages 4 to 20, spanning all abilities and stands behind its promise never turn a child away, regardless of financial or physical limitations.
March 2-11, 2018
Montgomery Theater, 271 S. Market St., San Jose, CA, USA
*Photos ©2018GregAutry ALLRIGHTS RESERVED