Saturday, April 10, 2010

Back in Time: 1993 - 1994: The Who's Tommy, Part 3

To those of you who follow this blog and were wondering when I'd go on with my series on The Who's Tommy, I apologize for taking so long to get this segment to you.  Previously, we looked at this mid-90's show in terms of its general history, and then at its creative team.  Today, I will talk about a few of the supporting cast/ensemble members, many of whom have gone on to huge things after their Pinball Wizarding days.

First, let's recognize that The Who's Tommy was directed and billed as a complete cast ensemble.  That is, there were no names above the title and no names were given "featured billing."  Instead, I will, for the sake of argument, only consider the Walker family - Captain and Mrs Walker, Cousin Kevin, Uncle Ernie and Tommy himself as "the principal cast."  The other 25 cast members are up for discussion here.  Many of them have really flourished on Broadway.

Bill Buell

  • Before Tommy: The Miser, Taking Steps, The First, Welcome to the Club
  • During Tommy: Ensemble, The Minister, Mr. Simpson; U/S uncle Ernie
  • After Tommy: Titanic, Urinetown, The History Boys, Equus - In both of the last two, he understudied Richard Griffiths!

Cheryl Freeman

  • Before Tommy: Show Boat (1983), The Amen Corner
  • During Tommy: The Gypsy (The Acid Queen)
  • After Tommy: Play On!, The Civil War (Drama Desk Nomination)

Romain Fruge (above, right)

  • Before Tommy: Big River (original production), The Secret Garden
  • During Tommy: Swing; U/S: Tommy, Cousin Kevin
  • After Tommy: Titanic, The Full Monty, 3Penny Opera

Christian Hoff

  • Before Tommy: Hoff made his Broadway debut in Tommy.
  • During Tommy: Pinball Lad, Local Lad, Security Guard
  • After Tommy: Jersey Boys (Tony Award - Best Featured Actor in a Musical), Pal Joey (until he was replaced after injury)

Norm Lewis (above, center)

  • Before Tommy: Miss Saigon
  • During Tommy: The Specialist, Ensemble
  • After Tommy: Chicago, Side Show, The Wild Party, Amour, Les Miserables (revival - Javert), The Little Mermaid, Sondheim on Sondheim

Michael McElroy (above, top)

  • Before Tommy: The High Rollers Social and Pleasure Club
  • During Tommy: Hawker, Local Lad, Officer, Security Guard
  • After Tommy: RENT (final company - Tom Collins), The Wild Party, Big River (revival)

Alice Ripley

  • Before Tommy: Les Miserables (original production)
  • During Tommy: Local Lass, The Specialist's Assistant, U/S Mrs. Walker
  • After Tommy: Sunset Boulevard, Side Show (Tony Nomination - Best Actress in a Musical), James Joyce's The Dead, The Rocky Horror Show (revival), next to normal (Tony Award - Best Leading Actress in a Musical)

Sherie Scott

  • Before Tommy: She made her Broadway debut in Tommy.
  • During Tommy: Local Lass, Sally Simpson
  • After Tommy: Grease! (1994 revival), RENT, AIDA , Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Tony and Drama Desk Nominations), The Little Mermaid, Everyday Rapture.  She also co-founded Sh-K-Boom records with her husband.  She also now goes by the name Sherie Rene Scott.


The rest of the ensemble of The Who's Tommy went on to have many credits, as you will see below.  Several went on to becoming Assistant Directors on projects as diverse as The Odd Couple, Dream and Wicked.  And odlly, many cast members reunited in Titanic, Side Show, How to Succeed... and The Wild Party.

The Ensemble and Swings

Michael Arnold (South Pacific), Maria Calabrese (H2$, The Will Rogers Follies), Tracy Nicole Chapman (The Lion King), Paul Dobie (Wicked), Tom Flynn (H2$), Jody Gelb (Titanic), Donnie Kehr (Billy Elliot), Pam Klinger (Beauty and the Beast, Maggie in the film A Chorus Line), Lis Leguillou (Chicago, Wicked), Crysta Macalush (Les Miserables - original production), Lee Morgan (Brooklyn), Buddy Smith (The Will Rogers Follies), Carly Jane Steinborn, Timothy Warmen (Steel Pier, Side Show, Jesus Christ Superstar), and the swings: Victoria Lecta Cave (Cabaret, The Boy from Oz), Todd Hunter (Side Show, Victor/Victoria), and Tracey Langran (RENT, Dream).

Coming in Part 4:  The Leads of The Who's Tommy.


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