You know that song, “Pinball Wizard” by The Who? That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball. Yeah, it’ll be stuck in your head all day now. You’re welcome. AnyWHO, that song is part of the very first rock opera ever, created by The Who and inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998 for its historical and artistic value.
The San Diego Repertory Theatre has been performing The Who’s Tommy recently at the Lyceum and offered me tickets, which I jumped on immediately. Knowing that Nate is such a big fan of Queen and their rock opera style, I took him along to this for date night and it didn’t disappoint! Just like the song, the play tells the story of a boy who goes deaf, dumb and blind after a traumatic incident but later discovers that he’s an absolute wiz at pinball. I knew the music would be great, but what impressed me the most was the cast. Young Tommy is played by a four-year-old boy and a ten-year-old girl, both of whom play the catatonic child with grace. The phenomenal Grammy-nominated B. Slade plays Adult Tommy in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Michael Jackson with his high-reaching notes and white leather jacket. The connection between these three unrelated actors is poignant and Tommy’s transformation throughout the play is believable. That’s a particularly impressive feat considering that all three Tommys are a different race. San Diego Repertory is a “colorblind” cast, which means that each part goes to whoever is most talented, regardless of nationality or physical appearance (and, in the case of ten-year-old Tommy…without regard for gender as well!).
If you’re local, I highly recommend you go check it out at the Lyseum downtown. But you better hurry! The Who’s Tommy will only be showing through August 14th.