Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Kids Are Alright

We went to see the Dallas Theater Center's production of The Who's Tommy last night, a surprising season opener for this conservative venue. It brought the house down, as they say. Thunderous Standing O.

Signs warned of "loud rock music." Someone behind us said this was the first time she'd ever been handed ear plugs at the theater. When the local band, Oso Closo, opened up full blast, I thought, "You call this loud? Hah! I saw the original Tommy performed by The Who back in the 70s when Keith Moon was still alive. You don't know what loud is!" (Which, incidentally, is why composer Pete Townshend, whom I've actually met, is almost completely deaf now.)

I couldn't have been more pleased with the band's performance. Truly first-rate. I love the fact that not one of the band members or actors was born when Townshend wrote this first-ever rock opera back in 1969. The Kids Are Alright, indeed. 

There were a couple of departures from the original story:

In this version, Tommy's father, Captain Walker,  kills Mrs. Walker's lover, not the other way around. The actor who plays Captain Walker, Nehal Joshi, has a phenomenal voice not to mention the ability to act.

Also in this version, Tommy is assassinated, which when you think about it, is just the thing that usually happens with messiahs in general, so it makes sense. 

Cedric Neal's adult Tommy was good, certainly, but imo lacked the necessary charisma for "the new Messiah." As for stage presence, he might as well have been part of the ensemble.

The performances of Liz Mikel (the Acid Queen/Gypsy) and Gregory Lush (Uncle Ernie) were exceptional.

The best part of the whole production was the way the band interacted with the cast. In fact, the band was part of the cast, made possible by wireless technology. I loved this aspect of it, and I know we're going to be hearing a lot more of Oso Closo.

Click here to see pics from the production and to read more about Oso Closo.