Pinball Wizard Takes Center Stage in
“Tommy” at Kelsey Theatre Jan. 27-Feb. 5

1/4/06

The groundbreaking rock opera “Tommy” comes to MCCC’s Kelsey Theatre this winter. Written by Pete Townshend and originally performed in concert by The Who, this unforgettable musical will be presented by Cheng/Ferrara Productions, in association with The Pennington Players, Fridays and Saturdays, Jan. 27, 28 and Feb. 4 at 8 p.m., and Sundays, Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. Kelsey Theatre is located on Mercer’s West Windsor campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. An opening night reception follows the Jan. 27 performance to give the audience a chance to meet the cast and crew.

Released in 1969, "Tommy" pioneered the rock opera genre. It tells the story of a boy who withdraws into his own private world after witnessing a murder. The best efforts of his family and of medical science to save him are unsuccessful, but Tommy finds a way to connect with the world—and a chance at salvation—in the unlikeliest of places. Along the way, the audience will hear some of the most treasured songs in rock history, including “Pinball Wizard,” “See Me, Feel Me,” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

Featured in "Tommy," clockwise from left, are Elizabeth Rzasa, Kristin Keenan, Anthony Vitalo as Tommy, Caroline Fabian and Ashleigh Graves.

In 1975 “Tommy” was made into a film. Directed by Ken Russell, it starred such noted performers as Ann-Margret, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, and Jack Nicholson. When Townshend and director Des McAnuff brought “Tommy” to Broadway in 1993, the cast totaled more than thirty, and included elaborate sets, special effects, and pyrotechnics. The show earned five Tony Awards, including Best Original Score.

The creative team for the Kelsey production includes director Frank Ferrara, musical supervisor Nick Cheng, vocal director Shannon Ferrara, and choreographer Jill Potash. An eight-piece band will accompany the cast.

According to Ferrara, the production’s intent is to return to the original spirit of “Tommy” as a rock concert, blending traditional musical theatre with some of the staging conventions of a concert. “This music became famous because it was so immediate and authentic,” he said. “It wasn’t about sets, or costumes, or all of the tricks we usually use in musical theater. It was just four guys standing on stage wailing away, and because of that, I think the audience connected with the ideas and emotions of the music.”

Starring in the title role is Anthony Vitalo. Vicky Czarnik plays Tommy’s mother, Mrs. Walker. The cast also features Tom Bessellieu as Uncle Ernie, Brian Meltzer as Captain Walker, Mike Schiumo as Cousin Kevin, Kelly Sharp as Sally Simpson, and Adrienne Bogarde as the Acid Queen.

The ensemble features Hannah Ahearn, Julie Balog, Rachel Benoit, John Boccanfuso, Caroline Fabian, Kristin Keenan, Pat Parton, Michaela Tomcho, Ashleigh Graves, Andy Mahaney, Keith Nielsen, Jim Petro and Elizabeth Rzasa. Tommy is played as a child by Jeremy Barson, Elijah Davis and Noah Barson.

Tickets are $16 for adult, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students and children. Free parking is available next to the theatre. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the Kelsey Box Office at 609-584-9444. Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible and provides assisted listening devices upon request.  For a complete listing of adult and children’s events, visit the Kelsey webpage or call the box office for a brochure.

For more on events at Kelsey see:

2005-06 Kelsey Performance Schedule
Ticket Information
Audition Information
Kelsey Kids Playshops

 

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