The Who's Tommy opened in Winnipeg June 7, 1996, and will play major cities across Canada, and return to Toronto to the O'Keefe Centre (Canada's largest theatre [3000+ seats] space which by then will be officially renamed Hummingbird Centre for the Arts) in October and November, 1996.
Tour cities announced to date include Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto. Mirvish Productions, which has tour rights for Tommy in Canada, the U.S. and Japan, have the option of an additional tour, yet to be announced.
Tommy, written by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff has been highly praised, winning six 1995 Dor Mavor Moore Awards (Toronto Theatre Award) five 1993 Tony Awards in NY and a Grammy Award.
Besides USA and Canada, the show has been produced in Frankfurt, Germany and just had its triumphant opening in London, England.
Tommy is one of the most complex, high-tech musicals in theatre history, with computer-controlled scenery and lights, hydraulic lifts and a barrage of video and slide projections. This $6 million production requires 10 computers to run the show for each performance, and 57 projectors illuminate more than 2,200 slides. Fifty technicians assembled the show in Toronto, with 35 technicians needed to run the show backstage each night. More than 300 costumes and 63 wigs have been made by a team of 25 artisans, and some cast members make as many as 17 costume changes during the show. In the title role of Tommy Walker is Tim Howar, an exciting young performer originally from Edmonton. Tim was an original member of the Canadian Premiere production of Tommy, and was hand picked by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff to play the title role on the National Tour.
He was also in the original cast of Miss Saigon in Toronto, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, where he originated the role of Benjamin. He is a Canadian from Edmonton, Alberta.
Most of the original 31 member cast is returning to Tommy. Jennifer Lyon, a Winnipeg native, will reprise the role of Mrs. Walker. Joe Lutton plays Captain Walker, coming directly from the German company of Tommy. Laurie Murdoch, a Toronto actor originally from Montreal, stars as Uncle Ernie. Cousin Kevin will be protrayed by Jeffrey Kuhn, an actor that has worked extensively in Toronto and at Stratford. Natalie Dawn Oliver stars as The Gypsy, direct from Tommy in Frankfurt. The young Tommy Walker is played by Sara Caputo and Samantha Fletcher at age 4, and Callahan Connor and Tyler Hynes at age 10.
The original award-winning Broadway and Toronto creative team will return to assemble this touring production. Along with the director Des McAnuff and author/lyricist Pete Townshend, Tommy features choreography by Wayne Cilento with musical supervision by Joseph Church and orchestrations by Steve Margoshes. Sets are by John Arnone, costumes by David C. Wollard, lighting by Chris Parry, sound by Steve Canyon Kennedy and projections by Wendall K. Harrington. The musical director is Boko Suzuki.
Pete Townshend was a founding member of The Who in 1963. The composer of hundreds of songs, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Active as a songwriter, performer and producer, he continues to work as an editor at Faber and Faber, which he joined in 1983. He won the 1993 Tony Award for Best Original Score for Tommy on Broadway. In 1995 he won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best Sound and Music for Tommy in Toronto. Director and author Des McAnuff received the 1993 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for his direction of Tommy on Broadway. He returned to his hometown of Toronto to direct the Canadian Premiere of Tommy, for which he won the 1995 Dora for Best Director. Soon after Tommy opened in Toronto, Des McAnuff also directed a 1995 Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, starring Matthew Broderick Choreographer Wayne Cilento won the 1993 Tony Award for Best Choresgraphy for Tommy. He also received the Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Nomination. He recreates his choreography for Tommy from the La Jolla Playhouse, where his 1990 production of A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum garnered him the San Diego Drama Critics Circle Award, and the Drama-Logue Award. Cilento also choreographed How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway in 1995, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award.