Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Back in Time: 1993 - 1994: The Who's Tommy, Part 2

In this second of the series, I'll be taking a look at the creative folks behind the birth of this highly successful, and, in many ways, ground-breaking musical.  You will note that Tommy seems to either be the starting point of a career or smack dab in the middle of other careers.  Whether it was as a sprinboard or a career peak, The Who's Tommy has shown its influence in the 17 years since it opened on Broadway.

The Who:  The band who created the rock opera Tommy in the first place, is comprised of Pete Townshend, Roger Daltry, Keith Moon and John Entwistle.  Both Moon and Entwistle are credited with contributing to the show, though both passed away years before the show came to Broadway.

  • The Who was inducted into the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
  • Worldwide record sales are over 100 Million
  • In the United States alone they have 17 top 10 albums, 18 Gold Records, 12 Platinum Records and 5 Multi-Platinum Records.
  • They most recently appeared in the half-time show of Super Bowl XLIV, singing a medley of their biggest hits, including "Pinball Wizard" from Tommy.
  • Today's generation probably knows them best (though maybe not by name) as they provide the theme songs for all three CSI television series. CSI: "Who Are You?; CSI: Miami "Won't Get Fooled Again"; and CSI: New York "Baba O'Reilly".

Pete Townshend: Music, Lyrics, Book

Prior to Tommy: Rock 'N Roll! The First 5,000 Years
During Tommy: Tony Award nominee: Best Book of a Musical; Tony Award winner: Best Score of a Musical (Music and Lyrics).

Des McAnuff: Book, Direction, Producer

Prior to Tommy:  Director of LaJolla Playhouse (Tony Winner - Best Regional Theatre, 1993), Part of the Dodger Theatricals producing team, which he is still part of today.  Shows he either produced and/or directed include: Pump Boys and Dinettes, Big River, Prelude to a Kiss, The Secret Garden, Guys and Dolls (1992).
During Tommy: Tony Award nominee: Best Book of a Musical, Best Musical; Tony Award winner: Best Direction of a Musical.
After Tommy: Shows he either produced and/or directed include: How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying! (H2$), The King and I (1996), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Titanic, 1776 (revival), Footloose, The Music Man (2001), 42nd Street (2001), Urinetown, Into the Woods (revival), Dracula: The Musical, Jersey Boys, The Farnsworth Invention, and  Guys and Dolls (2009).



Jersey Boys
In total, Mr. McAnuff has 25 Tony Award nominations, 3 Tony winning Best Musicals (Big River, Titanic, Jersey Boys), 4 Tony winning Best Musical Revivals (Guys and Dolls (1992), The King and I (1996), 42nd Street (2001), and Into the Woods (2002), and 2 Tonys for Best Direction of a Musical (Big River, The Who's Tommy).

Wayne Cilento: Choreographer

Prior to Tommy: As an actor/dancer, Mr. Cilento appeared in See Saw, Dancin' and Big Deal.  he is probably best known, however, as the original Mike ("That I Can Do!") in A Chorus Line.  He learned choreography by the two Broadway masters, one of only a handful of dancers who are skilled in both the Bennett and Fosse techniques.  As a choreographer, he was responsible for Baby (Tony nominee) and Jerry's Girls, which he both conceived and choreographed.

"Coffee Break" - H2$ Revival

During Tommy: Mr. Cilento won the Tony for Best Choreography for The Who's Tommy.
After Tommy:  He has choreographed H2$, Dream, AIDA, Wicked, and the Christina Applgate revival of Sweet Charity, earning Tony nominations for all, except AIDA.

David C. Woodard: Costume Design

Prior to Tommy: A Few Good Men
During Tommy: Tony nomination for Best Costume Design for a Musical

West Side Story Revival

After Tommy: Damn Yankees (revival), The Rocky Horror Show (Tony nomination), All Shook Up, The Farmsworth Invention, 33 Variations, and the current revival of West Side Story.

John Arnone: Scenic Design

Prior to Tommy: The Homecoming (1991)

The Who's Tommy

During Tommy: Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical
After Tommy: Twilight Los Angeles: 1992, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, H2$, Grease! (1994), The Full Monty, The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, Bobbi Boland, Lennon.

Chris Parry: Lighting Design

Prior to Tommy: Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Tony nomination)
During Tommy: Tony Award winner, Best Lighting Design of a Musical
After Tommy: Not About Nightingales (Tony nomination), Brooklyn Boy.  Mr. Parry passed away in 2007.

Wendall K. Harrington: Projections

Prior to Tommy:  Harrington revolutionized Broadway with the use of projections as far back as They're Playing Our Song, My One and Only, The Heidi Chronicles and The Will Rogers Follies.
After Tommy:  Projections for: Beauty and the Beast, Company (1995), Steel Pier, The Capeman, Ragtime, The Civil War, Putting It Together, In My Life, and most recently, Grey Gardens.

 The Who's Tommy

Batwin + Robin Productions: Video Design

Batwin + Robin Productions chief officers are Linda Batwin and Robin Silvestri.  Their work, along with Wendall K. Harrington and John Arnone on The Who's Tommy, has paved the way for more and more complex visuals on stage.  Such shows as The Woman in White and Love Never Dies rely heavily on completely projected and "moving" scenery, a technique first brought to the fore by these collaorators (and others) on The Who's Tommy.

During Tommy: This was Batwin + Robin Productions' first Broadway credit.
After Tommy:  Twlight Los Angeles: 1992, H2$, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, The Rocky Horror Show, and Golda's Balcony.

In my next The Who's Tommy blog, we'll take a closer look at the ensemble of the show.  It includes several future Tony Award nominees and a winner or two.

Comments?  Leave one here or email me at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...