The Who’s Tommy , which was based on the concept album “Tommy” by the British rock group The Who—about an alienated, abused child who, despite having lost his sight, speech and hearing at an early age, becomes a pinball wizard and youth culture icon—was adapted by the Who's Pete Townshend and director Des McAnuff into a stage musical. It ran for more than two years on Broadway and won Tonys for McAnuff's direction and Townsend's score, in a tie with Kander and Ebb's Kiss of the Spider Woman. The show has also become famous for the number of its many young cast members who went on to greater stage fame, including Michael Cerveris (Titanic, Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Romain Fruge (The Full Monty), Norm Lewis (Side Show, Amour), Kevin Cahoon (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Alice Ripley (Side Show, The Rocky Horror Show), Jonathan Dokuchitz (The Boys from Syracuse, The Look of Love), Sherie Rene Scott (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and Michael McElroy (Violet, The Wild Party).
The show was revived at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in 2003. Bay Street’s mounting, running June 13-July 9, will be directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge, a Bay Street regular. No casting has been announced.
VIVA LA VIDA! , by Diane Shaffer, will run July 18-Aug. 6, and star Tony-winner Ruehl (Lost in Yonkers, The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? ) as iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Susana Tubert directs. Kahlo has become a much celebrated and examined character in recent years (a Julie Taymor film, “Frida,” starring Salma Hayek, appeared in 2002). During her life, she lived in the shadow of her more famous husband, painter Diego Rivera. Their relationship was a tempestuous one, with both sides having affairs, including one between Kahlo and Leon Trotsky. Because of an accident that stole her ability to have children and ruined her back and pelvis, Kahlo suffered her entire life. In recent decades, Kahlo’s own work as a painter has been recognized and acclaimed. Shaffer’s play will look at the final 18 months of Kahlo’s life.
Ruehl recently starred Off-Broadway in another one-person play, Woman Before a Glass, (A Triptych in Four Parts), playing Peggy Guggenheim.
The Bay Street season will open with Ronald Harwood’s play Quartet, set in a home for retired opera singers, directed by Jack Hofsiss, and starring Kaye Ballard and Paul Hecht. Dates are May 23-June 4. The final show in the line-up is Crispin Whittell’s comedy Darwin in Malibu, playing Aug. 15-Sept. 3. The play finds Darwin, the founder of the theory of evolution, alive and lounging around in a deck chair in Malibu. Soon, two contemporaries arrive and the debate over the origins of man begins anew. Daniel Gerroll will direct.