Theater archives

A Brooklyn Tommy Revival Is No Magic Journey


If you thought The Who’s Tommy on Broadway was already a watering down of the original rock opera, then you probably want to avoid the Gallery Players’ semi-pro shoestring revival of the 1993 musical. One more degree (at least) removed from the classic 1969 concept album about a sensory-deprived Christ child’s rise to fame, this eager-to-please staging by the Park Slope troupe amps up the musical theater cheese at the expense of head-banging passion. An able band does their best to channel the spirit of Pete Townshend, but director Tom Wojtunik hides them backstage, frequently giving center stage to a dancing chorus of 12, their overworked gyrations crowding the tiny space.

Without the resources and spectacle available to the Tony-winning original production, a smaller company would do well to restore the intimacy and informality of a rock show. Instead, Gallery Players tries to ape Broadway, but with community theater results. Except for Ron Amato’s imaginative video projections, the chintzy production design overliteralizes where bold stylization seems required to match the pumping music. And whatever the budget, one would hope for at least a decent pinball machine—the ramshackle gray-painted go-kart wheeled out here wouldn’t make a wizard of anyone.