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The Who's Tommy
by The Archer School for Girls


Music and Lyrics by Peter Townshend, Book by Peter Townshend and Des McAnuff, Additional Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon. Based on The Who’s 1969 album, the musical opened on Broadway in 1993 after a La Jolla Playhouse world premiere.  

Through the reflection of the mirror, four-year-old Tommy witnesses a traumatic scene. He becomes unresponsive to the outside world, remaining hidden inside himself despite his parents’ desperate pleas. Years later, the medical mystery only deepens for his family, and for the public, when the deaf, dumb, blind kid becomes an unlikely celebrity as the Pinball Wizard in this rock musical based on The Who’s Tommy.  


As you enter the darkened walkway toward the The Archer School for Girls’ intimate theatre space, small blinking lights above are leading you up the ramp like you’re in a pinball game. The set includes jagged glass-like shards centered by the representation of a pinball machine featuring a table and a rectangular frame hanging above it. Susan and JP Luckenbach’s set and their stunning lighting effects create unforgettable visuals. The show’s lighting includes low-tech but clever touches like the doctors surrounding Tommy and scanning him up and down with flashlights while the rest of the stage is in total darkness (four-year-old Tommy replaced by ten-year-old Tommy during this) and far more complicated lighting climaxing with a dramatic shattering effect. Directors Reed Farley and Gustine Fudickar’s production makes use of it all with great staging and choreography, and they have a feel for the emotional potential of the scenes and the show as a whole.  

And the cast has a great feel for the scenes and their roles as well. The all-girls school has an all-girl cast, and it’s Lulu Cerone as our narrator and adult Tommy. Lulu has excellent vocals, a natural narrator and sympathetic, comforting to her withdrawn younger Tommys (Eloise Rollins-Fife as four-year-old Tommy and Sage Orvis as Tommy at ten), while capturing the optimism, relief, and wonder Tommy experiences in the latter scenes. Kathleen Kelso gives a remarkable performance throughout as Mrs. Walker with strong rock vocals and beautifully genuine reactions as Tommy’s mother deals with death, fear, frustration, and hope. Mataya Josephson is terrific as Mr. Walker, a concerned father and husband who begins to lose hope for their child, but not before trying just about any desperate possibility.  

Leah Doornink nails her big number as the most desperate possibility – the “Acid Queen” who is prepared to jumpstart Tommy’s sense of touch. Beatrix Rowland sort of tries that as a clownishly creepy Uncle Ernie who tries to Fiddle About with young Tommy as his babysitter, channeling a bit of Miley Cyrus with a foam finger prop. Hollis Dohr knocks out some more great vocals as groupie Sally Simpson. Cece McLennan is Cousin Kevin, spot-on as a casual bully who slowly begins to appreciate his unusual cousin. Cece is joined by the talented Olivia Bagg and Aisha Mainwaring to lead the cast in a rousing Pinball Wizard to end Act One. It’s an impressively deep cast that is completely into their roles, making the last scenes, which are staged much more tragically than usual, extremely powerful with both their acting and their chorus of voices.

Performed November 15 - 16, 2013

Photos by Daniel In.

Rob Hopper

Executive Director
National Youth Arts

~ Cast ~ 

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Second Officer, Harmonica Player: Aggie Alperovich
Lover, First Lad: Olivia Bagg
Narrator/Tommy: Lulu Cerone
Minister, Policeman 1, Barrister 2, Reporter: Haley Cohen
Nurse 2, Third Lass, Sally Simpson: Hollis Dohr
Acid Queen: Leah Doornink
First Officer, Mr. Simpson: Emilia Emcke
Allied Soldier 1, Hawker, Specialist’s Assistant: Stella Gage
Second Lass: Briney Harris
Captain Walker: Mataya Josephson
Mrs. Walker: Kathleen Kelso
Allied Soldier 2, Second Lad: Aisha Mainwaring
Cousin Kevin: Cece McLennan
Tommy age 10: Sage Orvis
Tommy age 4: Eloise Rollins-Fife
Barrister 1, Mrs. Simpson: Maria Roussos
Uncle Ernie: Beatrix Rowland
Nurse 1, Specialist: Alex Sherman
Policeman 2, Judge, News Vendor: Gabby Weltman
First Lass: Carolyn Zaccaro

Directors: Reed Farley & Gustine Fudickar
Choreographers: Reed Farley & Gustine Fudickar
Music Director: Ryan Hutchison
Assistant Director: Amanda Mihalke
Stage Manager: Tracey Thompson
Assistant Stage Manager: Jennifer Sarabia
Technical Directors: Susan Luckenbach, JP Luckenbach
Costume Designers: Tanisa Fatchett & Ruth Talley
Set & Lighting Design: Susan Luckenbach, JP Luckenbach
Light Board Programmer: Rob Fritz
Lighting Design: John Paul Luckenbach
Sound Design: Becca Kessin
Musicians: Andrew Campbell, Joe Gamble, Emir Isilay, David Contreras, Kevin Kelso
Projection Design: Amanda Mihalke & Emily Silver
Stage Crew: Shana Chin, Lina Jegeus, Karinne Robbins, Sophie Dimont


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