"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 
be excellent!
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 
Greg Biggs
Clarksville, TN

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