"Tommy" musical performance in Columbus, Ohio
Biggsk at aol.com
Biggsk at aol.com
Mon Feb 27 22:36:37 CST 2006
This past weekend I drove from my home in Clarksville, TN to Columbus, OH to
see the latest performance of the Who's "Tommy" as a rock opera. This is
currently on a limited run and is the creation of Shadowbox Cabaret, the
fabulous music/comedy troupe based in Columbus with a branch club in Newport, KY
(across from Cincinnati,OH). I am a frequent patron of Shadowbox when I am in
Columbus and have immensely enjoyed their band and comedy and have come to
appreciate the sheer talent and dedication of the members of this
organization. With that in mind, I knew that their treatment of The Who's "Tommy" would
Shadowbox regularly performs comedy routines interspersed with music between
the sketches, but their work of "Tommy" is all serious - and outstanding -
with a little levity in some scenes!
Utilizing the talents of the many performers from the Shadowbox company from
both locations, this performance was first, and foremost, rock and roll
based, with members of the Columbus Shadow band BillWho? augmented by players
from Newport and a stand-in drummer. (The regular BillWho? drummer, the Beast,
is one of the best drummers I have ever seen! The stand-in, Dan Abdelnour,
did not disappoint!) Basically, Billwho? could go on the road and be the best
cover band you have ever heard on their own - they are THAT good!
As the band played the music from "Tommy," various performers, taking
specific roles from the opera, sang parts and acted out the scenes. These were
often augmented by extras as back-up singers, dancers and related actors.
Virtually everyone in the Shadow organization is multi-talented, many with degrees
in performance arts. Sets were quickly changed to reflect the setting for
each song as the band played, and rocked, on.
Adam Fauth (Shadow Columbus), who played Tommy in his older years, was
outstanding! He has terrific stage presence and an excellent, clear voice who
handled his parts with ease. Cousin Kelly (nee Kevin) was portrayed by Edelyn
Parker of Shadow Newport, and she was terrific as the somewhat evil cousin
leading a pack of equally evil friends who take advantage of Tommy's problems.
Brian Westbrook (Shadow Newport) was also noteworthy as Uncle Ernie in both
the scenes where he "fiddled about" (handled with great taste I might add) and
as the barker for Tommy's Holiday Camp later on, which utilized funny videos
as a backdrop to the performance (Shadow is multi-format capable and they
use everything in their performances).
Another excellent vocal performance was turned in by Stephanie Shull, who
played the Acid Queen (in a mode reminiscent of Tina Turner's from the film
version). I have seen her in the fellow Shadow troupe 2 Co's singing blues
songs and this lady can sing! Shadow Columbus regular Julie Klein, who can
really belt out the rock songs in the regular Shadow performances, played the
Hawker/Pimp in "Eyesight To The Blind," which she handled with her signature
manner. Captain and Mrs. Walker were portrayed by 2 Co's Tom Cardinal and Shadow
Newport's Stacie Boord, and in all appearances in the performance, sang well
together and did a fine job acting out their scenes.
The band, led by guitarist Matt Hahn (Shadow Columbus) and anchored by the
booming bass of Anthony McCoy (who did The Ox great honor by the way!), were
excellent, handling the differing moods and dramatic levels of Townshend's
music with great care and much aplomb. They can rock with the best or soar like
a small bird when necessary, and their music was the foundation upon which
this was all built. This is simply a terrific band!
The dancing and choreography was designed by Shadow Columbus' Katy Psenicka
and was up to the lofty standards that Shadow regulars have come to expect and
appreciate. This is a very-well integrated troupe in that all elements of
performance arts; singing, dancing, acting and, when appropriate, comedy, are
intertwined into a seamless presentation, none overshadowing any other and
all working towards the ultimate goal of professionalism and audience
enjoyment. These are very professional and highly dedicated people and it shows.
Lastly, while not having a single line to say or a note to sing, young Erik
Lau, who portrayed Tommy in his younger years, was the epitome of youthful
innocence and handled his role like a professional.
Shadow founder Steve Guyer began the afternoon with an announcement about
why they took on "Tommy" for their first non-typical Shadow performance in some
ten years. The Shadow bands do Who songs fairly often in their regular
cabaret performances and this was a way to give back a little to a band that has
certainly inspired many of Shadow's performers over the years. The Who's
music was played constantly before the show and during the intermission, with
featured bio-pics of each Who member showing on the video screens.
"Tommy" by Shadowbox Cabaret Columbus, is a limited run production that will
only be performed in Sundays. I caught the 2:30 afternoon show yesterday
and there was another 7:30 evening performance last night. There will be three
more Sundays for "Tommy" before its conclusion: March 5th, 12th and 19th,
2006. As mentioned, there are 2 shows per Sunday (6 remaining shows in all).
Reservations are a MUST as these shows are drawing rave local reviews and
selling out quickly! Shadow also offers a full bar and great food. All details
can be found on their website: _www.shadowboxcabaret.com_
(http://www.shadowboxcabaret.com/) and then click on the "Tommy" icon when the site pops up
for tickets and other related information.
Folks - this is the best performance treatment of "Tommy" I have ever seen
(and I have seen two others over the years), so if you live somewhat close to
Columbus (Hell - I drove 6 1/2 hours each way!), DO make an effort to go see
this. You will not regret it one bit! You will then be afflicted, as I have
become over the last year, with Shadow fever! Not a bad affliction to get
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