'The Who's Tommy' is coming to Cincinnati Memorial Hall in September

A summer that already includes two operas with Rock roots — "The Bradbury Tattoos" and "Another Brick in the Wall" — also gets a semi-staged production of a classic Rock concept album that became a Broadway smash musical.

click to enlarge Banner for local production of "The Who's Tommy" shows a Memorial Hall-shaped second "M." - PHOTO: Provided
PHOTO: Provided
Banner for local production of "The Who's Tommy" shows a Memorial Hall-shaped second "M."

Tickets go on sale today (Friday, July 13) for four September performances at Memorial of a locally mounted, semi-staged production of The Who's Tommy, This classic Broadway musical — based on the classic 1969 Rock concept album by The Who — debuted in 1992 and became a Tony-winning smash that has inspired countless Rock musicals.

Memorial Hall, since the 2016 restoration of the historic building, has sought to produce and/or host a variety of programming. Its manager, Joshua Steele, has a background in theatrical productions. "This will be the first musical theater piece of any kind produced by Memorial Hall since the renovation," Steele said, via email. "It’s something we’ve been considering since we first began developing programming for the building. It’s our hope that the concert staging of Tommy will appeal to our established popular music audience while engaging many in Cincinnati’s rich theatre fan base for the first time. The 'in concert' forgives Memorial Hall’s lack of wing space, fly loft and soft goods while capitalizing on its intimacy, acoustic excellence and revamped technical capacity."

Leslie Goddard will direct and choreograph this production, using a six-piece live band, projections from the original Broadway production, a 24-member choir and a cast of twelve professional singer/dancers, according to a press release. Music director and pianist Steve Goers is a faculty member at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and a featured performer at a concert staging of Tommy at the Covedale Center for the Arts in 2009. 

The Who — Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwhistle and Keith Moon — performed Tommy many times in concert after the best-selling record was released, including at a memorable 1970 show at Music Hall, just north of Memorial Hall on Elm Street in Over-the-Rhine. It went on to become a 1975 movie directed by Ken Russell.

It is the story of a pinball-playing deaf, dumb and blind boy in a sometimes-hostile world, and contains such hit songs as "Pinball Wizard," "I'm Free" and "Listening to You."

So far this summer, concert:nova has announced a world premiere of a Rock Opera, The Bradbury Tattoos, which debuts Friday, July 13 at Memorial Hall. And at Music Hall, the Cincinnati Opera in July will present the U.S. premiere of Another Brick in the Wall, an operatic adaptation of the Rock album, The Wall, by Pink Floyd. 

What next? 

The TOMMY performances occur Sept. 14, 15, 20 and 21. Tickets are $28 - $42 and are available at MemorialHallOTR.com



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