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Anthony Barrile - "Pinball Wizard" - THE WHO'S TOMMY (1993 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade)
GOOD MORNING BROADWAY FANS!! We are only 17 DAYS AWAY from The 95th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. What an exciting time it’s going to be to see people gathering in the streets of the Big Apple celebrating New York’s MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET for the 1st time in 2 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As always, you are continuing to wake up with us at New York Broadway Tours and our TOP 30 BROADWAY AT MACY’S COUNTDOWN playing many of your favorite show stopping performances. Are you ready for more?!!.
At #17 on our countdown, we embark on a journey following a young deaf, mute, and dull-witted boy that goes on to become a pinball legend and religious leader. This is the story of Tommy. The show is based on the legendary 1965 rock opera album by The Wh. It’s written by the band’s lead guitarist Pete Townshead along with Des McAnuff.
From the 1993 NBC telecast, Tony winner Michael Ceveris as the title role and members of the cast are in for the ultimate tournament in Herald Square. Here they are performing the signature song PINBALL WIZARD.
TOMMY was originally conceived as The Who’s greatest Gold selling and breakthrough album released in 1969. With the success of the album, it was later interpreted as a ballet, a full-scale Opera and a featured film all in the 1970’s . The plan of putting the rock opera out on Broadway happened in the early 90’s. At the time, Pete Townshend broke his wrist in a cycling accident which prevented him from picking up his guitar for months. While for alternative work while he continued to recover, Townshend received a message and immediately responded to the Pace Theatrical Group who called for permissions for the rights to adapt TOMMY as a full scale Broadway musical. PACE introduced Townshend to director Des McAnuff, with whom they immediately became friends and started collaborating.
The musical originally had its world premiere run in 1992 at the La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, California. It was a commercial success despite mixed reviews from critics (even WHO bandmates lead singer Roger Daltrey and bassist John Entwistle thought it was too passive). From there, Townshend and McAnuff worked on numerous rewrites before officially bringing the show to New York City.
TOMMY officially arrived on Broadway in the Spring of 1993 playing the St. James Theatre. The original production ran for 27 previews and 899 regular performances. Under the direction of Des McAnuff and choreography by Wayne Cilento, the original cast consisted of….
Tony Award winner Michael Ceveris as the title role,
Marcia Mitzman as “Mrs. Walker”,
Jonathan Dokuchitz as “Captain Walker”,
Cheryl Freeman as “The Gypsy” & “The Acid Queen”.
In addition, the Ensemble featured a lineup of familiar Broadway stars of today which for many of them, it was their Broadway debut including Tony nominees Norm Lewis and Sherie Rene Scott along with Tony Award winners Christian Hoff and Alice Ripley, and more.
The original Broadway production of TOMMY was nominated for 11 Tony Awards in 1993 taking home 5 including BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL (for Des McAnuff), BEST CHOREOGRAPHY (for Wayne Cilento), and BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (for Pete Townshend).
Following its life on Broadway, TOMMY went on to wow audiences from productions around the world including London’s West End, Canada, and more.
A Broadway revival of TOMMY is still in the early official works. The revival is set to happen in celebration of the album’s 50th Anniversary. It’s expected to feature direction once again by Des McAnuff. No official words of plans on when the Broadway revival will be happening. Stay tuned.
It’s still performed today in schools, community, and regional theaters everywhere.
How awesome was that PINBALL challenge?!!!
Mike Haber
Author: Mike Haber