Des McAnuff's New Tommy, Starring Jeremy Kushnier and Paul Nolan, Opens May 30 at Stratford Fest

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
and Kenneth Jones
30 May 2013

Robert Markus
Robert Markus
Michael Cooper

Robert Markus, Paul Nolan and Jeremy Kushnier star in Des McAnuff's new Stratford Festival staging of the rock musical The Who's Tommy, which officially opens May 30 in Ontario.

McAnuff won a 1993 Tony Award for his direction of the kaleidoscopic tale of a post-World War II generation, inspired by the concept album by The Who. McAnuff is the former artistic director of the Stratford Festival. The production began previews May 4 and will run through Oct. 19 at Stratford's Avon Theatre.

Tommy has music and lyrics by Pete Townshend, book by Townshend and McAnuff, additional music and lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon.

Here's how Stratford bills Tommy: "Deprived of sight, hearing and speech by the shock of what he has witnessed as a child, young Tommy Walker seems lost to life — until he reveals an uncanny talent for the game of pinball. When his faculties are suddenly restored, Tommy is hailed as a living miracle — but will the fans who turn to him for enlightenment want to hear what he has to say?"

Wayne Cilento, who won the Tony for Choreography for Tommy, reunites with McAnuff. Rick Fox is the music director. The Broadway production's original set designer (John Arnone) and costume designer (David C. Woolard) are also working on the new Canadian revival. Some might speculate that the production is being created with an eye on a future commercial production. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Broadway debut.

The Stratford cast features Markus as the gifted title character; Nolan as Cousin Kevin; Kushnier as Capt. Walker; Jewelle Blackman as Gypsy; Kira Guloien as Mrs. Walker; Steve Ross as Uncle Ernie; Matthew G. Brown as Specialist; Sean Alexander as Hauk Lover; Jennifer Rider-Shaw as Sally; Lee Siegel as Hawker; with Matt Alfano, Gabriel Antonacci, Matthew Armet, Stephen Cota, Larry Herbert, Keely Hutton, Robin Hutton, Julia Juhas, Monique Lund, Nicholas Nesbitt, Laurin Padolina, Katrina Reynolds, Julius Sermonia, Galen Johnson (Swing), Krista Leis (Swing), Jennifer Stewart (Understudy), Conor Bergauer as 10-year-old Tommy and Joshua Buchwald as 10-year-old Tommy.

Nolan, Kushnier, Siegel, Leis, Reynolds, Alfano and Sermonia are alumni of McAnuff's recent production of Jesus Christ Superstar, seen at Stratford in 2011 and later at La Jolla Playhouse and on Broadway in 2012 (where it was Tony Award-nominated as Best Revival, along with Josh Young as Featured Actor in a Musical).

McAnuff recently tested a new rock musical, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots in California, using the music of The Flaming Lips. Read Playbill.com's Second Floor of Sardi's interview with McAnuff, in which he talks about his passion for rock 'n' roll

For more about Stratford's 2013 season on four stages, visit stratfordfestival.ca.

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Paul Nolan and cast
Photo by Michael Cooper