The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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‘Tommy’ makes musical debut at CSUN with live band

The Who’s rock opera “Tommy,” is a bizarre and disjointed musical that might seem to appeal to only specific cult audiences, but for fans of The Who or those who favor darker plot lines, “Tommy” might be what you’re looking for.

The plot follows a young British boy named Tommy, who becomes blind, deaf and dumb after witnessing a murder.

He is abused by his uncle and cousin, and is unable to connect to the rest of the world until he becomes a pinball wizard. He eventually comes back to consciousness only to be betrayed by his followers.

The off-the-wall play is hard to relate to for many and while it is certainly interesting, original and has a few good moments, it may be too complex for some.

CSUN’s musical production boasts a few bright stars shining through the darkness of “Tommy.”

Justin Rabi as the deliciously wicked “Uncle Ernie,” is fun to watch as a truly loathsome character, and Brent LaBrada as “Cousin Kevin” has an amazing voice and does a great job as another character you love to hate.

Tillie Spencer and Milo Shearer as Tommy’s parents and Erik Roget as Tommy all give solid, commendable performances within their roles.

Overall, the cast is satisfying, and they do the best with what they are given. Some of the synchronized dance scenes show considerable focus for a difficult segment, although a few seemed to need more time in rehearsals.

The live band did a fantastic job within “Tommy.” All of the music in the production had a good, solid sound, especially in the rocking musical numbers “Fiddle About” and “I’m Free.”

The set design was pleasant, with sliding facades and a large, elaborate mirror through which Tommy communicates with his younger self. The introduction of key props and items kept the set from becoming too busy, and most of the actors were able to carry the scenes through their voices.

The lighting effects worked well, and neon strobes in conjunction with the psychedelic guitar made many things shimmer vibrantly. Those who notice detail will appreciate the intricate costuming, ranging from the metallic ensemble of the Acid Queen to the retro-styled dresses and vests.

Unfortunately, sound problems with some microphones coming in and out were a distrcation. “Tommy” lacks some of the cohesion and magic that sold-out audiences felt at “Hair,” which was also directed by Gary Lennon in spring 2006.

The 1975 movie plays like an acid trip and is slightly more incoherent and confusing than the play, though both lack the appeal of another 1975 cult classic film, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Hopefully, the kinks from the first weekend will be worked out for the final shows on April 9-13 at the CSUN Campus Theatre.

Audience members who enjoy off-beat productions with cult-appeal will enjoy themselves at “Tommy,” but for those with little tolerance for obscure rock musicals, it might be best to see the movie first and then decide if you want to see it, hear it and feel it in person.

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