“The Who’s TOMMY” uplifts and excites

As the crowd began to fill the seats inside the Campus Theatre, the name “Tommy” appeared on the red curtains with song titles inside of each letter such as “See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me,” and “Tommy Can You Hear Me.” The ECC Theater Arts program and community musical performance of “TOMMY,” originally written by The Who, was an amazing show at the Campus Theatre.

Jubilation infects the stage once Tommy is cured.   El Camino Campus Theater, March 12. Cameron Klassen/ The Union
Jubilation infects the stage once Tommy is cured. "The Who's Tommy" opened on March 13 in the Campus Theatre. Cameron Klassen/ The Union

Before the show there was a small public service announcement about taking care of one’s self in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, which also explained that the ushers outside would have hand sanitizer for those who needed some.

The story of Tommy is about a young boy who witnesses the death of his step-father through the reflection of a mirror. Due to this and many other abuses, Tommy becomes blind, deaf, and mute for the majority of his life.

It’s not until the noise of a pinball machine gets his attention that he quickly becomes the best pinball player in the world, gaining fans, followers and international stardom. However, when fans ask how they could be more like Tommy, he responds by asking them why they would want to be like him when they already had what he always wanted. His followers dislike the answer and his message and leave Tommy, ending the musical.

The actors, costume and set design were great, however there were a few technical hiccups during the performance. For example, during a court scene the left and right sides of the stage showed the court, but right in the middle, a huge empty green screen sat right behind them. Most likely it was to give a backdrop, but that wasn’t the case.

Another small issue was that during a song, Tommy’s cousin Kevin and his crew were singing and when the first friend began to sing, there was no sound. One last minor thing was that during the performance, the name “Tommy” was supposed to repeat about five times, but the lack of repetition was most likely due to a short circuit on a sound board.

Throughout the first act of the musical, the oldest version of Tommy is present with the audience, watching from the far right side of the stage as if he was hiding from the spotlight. He would also reappear in the background of the scenes as well as when his turn to sing would come up. Besides the audience, the only characters able to see him were the younger versions of himself.

The musical had a two hour duration with a 15 minute intermission in the middle. I was so entranced with the live music and the cast that I hadn’t noticed that a whole two hours had gone by when the curtains closed. The reason why I say this is because the musical was nonstop action and singing from the actors, the live band and the videos projected on the walls.

El Camino Campus Theater, March 12. Cameron Klassen/ The Union
Looking for answers, Tommy's family turns to the church. Cameron Klassen/ The Union

I particularly enjoyed small details during the performance, such as the lads and lasses bringing out the pinball machine which I honestly thought would bring be make-shift, but was an actual working pinball machine called “Flip of a Card.”

At the end of the musical, as the crowd cheered each cast member came out, did a little dance, and exited right away, as the audience was left standing and yelling praise to each one of the cast members.

The costume designs were wonderful and authentic, every time new costumes were presented, they portrayed the years that the scene was set in. Additionally, the whole event was set to music played by the live band at the very top of the stage.

vibrant set design and costume choices provide a fun environment for The Who's 'Tommy' at El Camino Campus Theater, March 11th. Cameron Klassen/ The Union
Vibrant set design and costume choices provide a fun environment for The Who's 'Tommy' at the Campus Theatre on March 12. Cameron Klassen/ The Union

I’m grateful for having seen this musical as it has now been canceled due to public safety matters related to coronavirus. If it ever opens again, I’d consider it a must-see.

Editors Note: All scheduled performances of “The Who’s Tommy” have been cancelled due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. For more information, on the Center for the Art’s closure, visit eccunion.com/category/arts/eccunion.com/.