Tommy – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Even if you are not an opera fan, or into hard rock music, it is worth a trip to Waterbury’s Seven Angels Theatre to experience their latest offering “The Who’s Tommy” by Des McAnuff and Pete Townsend. Now celebrating fifty years of success, this musical will be playing until Sunday, May 19 and it is disturbing and awesome all at the same time.

The year is 1940 in England and the war is in full swing. A handsome army officer Captain Walker (Ryan Bauer-Walsh) meets and marries his young bride (Jillian Jarrett), leaving her pregnant when he ships out. Word soon comes that he is missing in action and unlikely to ever return.

Years later, when their son Tommy is four (RJ Vercellone) and she has rebuilt her life with a new man, the Captain returns. In anger he attacks his replacement with his gun. Tommy, who witnesses the terrible crime, is warned by his parents not to speak of what he has seen and heard. Traumatized, Tommy is essentially now deaf, dumb and blind and no amount of doctors or procedures seem to help.

Tommy is further terrorized by his uncle (Adam Ross Glickman) who abuses him and his cousin (Jackson Mattek) who bullies him, as well as neighboring kids who use him as a play toy. Now ten (Brendan Reilly), he discovers an aptitude for pinball machines that suddenly makes him a hero and a star. All along the way the adult Tommy (Garrison Carpenter) serves as narrator and protector for his younger self.

Tommy’s fate swings like a pendulum, from the deepest of despair to the bright lights of idol fame. Ultimately he uses his family and true friends, like Sally (Rachel Oremland), to secure his balance in life. Janine Molinari choreographs and directs this extraordinary tale that pulsates and probes the psyche. Standout performances are also portrayed by Richie Barella, Keisha Gilles and Will Carey as well as an energetic troupe of ensemble dancers.

For tickets ($44-57.50), call the Seven Angles Theatre, 1 Plank road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at Performances are Thursday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Come experience a journey of concealment and discovery as Tommy finds his way back to reality and a life.