This September, The Who’s iconic rock opera Tommy takes the stage in Cincinnati’s historic Memorial Hall, in the beautifully restored Anderson Theater. The four-night engagement begins on September 14, and features the talent of many music and theater professionals with ties to the Cincinnati region.
In 1969, rock band The Who released the studio album Tommy to rave reviews. Considered the first “rock opera,” it was adapted to a film version in 1975 and moved to the live stage in 1991. It moved on to Broadway two years later, earning five Tony Awards.
The Who’s Tommy follows the story of an abused, catatonic boy who overcomes his trauma to become an international pinball star. It’s a surprising and hopeful — though odd — story that features iconic The Who classics such as “Pinball Wizard” and “I’m Free.”
Memorial Hall’s presentation of The Who’s Tommy will not only put the brilliant rock opera on display, but also and impressive selection of Cincinnati talent.
3CDC’s Memorial Hall manager, Joshua Steele, is producing The Who’s Tommy. He has 15 years of theater production experience — including seven years producing theater — at The Carnegie in Covington, Kentucky. The production and direction crew, as well as the cast, have been handpicked from Steele’s professional colleagues.
Music Director Steve Goers is a faculty member at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), where Steele attended graduate school. Goers was a featured performer at the Covedale Center for the Arts’ staging of Tommy, and often performs at the Playhouse in the Park, Ensemble Theatre, and the Aronoff Center.
Local actress and dancer Leslie Goddard is director and choreographer. Goddard has appeared on local, regional, and national stages, and is owner-operator of the local musical theater studio MT-Prep. She has worked at CCM as a theatre educator and as a choreographer for Sycamore High School — another one of Steele’s alma maters.
“This is my first time directing and choreographing but I think it’ll be a great place to start because there is non-stop music and very little dialogue that is not sung,” says Goddard. “Therefore, the overall feeling of the show will be highly stylized, movement-wise. It will feel as much like a rock concert as a musical.”
Lead actor Noah Berry plays the role of Tommy/narrator. He is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University and was recently in the touring company of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. A 20-voice choir from Sycamore High School, directed by instructor Ken Holdt, a local performing artist, will round out the cast.
Steele says that attendees are in for a treat: “Audiences can expect to rock out to beloved hits of The Who, performed by an all-star band and some of the finest theater vocalists ever assembled on a local stage. While patrons won’t see big set pieces flying in and out, they can expect a fully-costumed production, as well as vibrant projections from the original Broadway production.”
Tickets are $28-42 and are available at memorialhallotr.com, or by calling the Memorial Hall Box Office at 513-977-8838 (Tues.-Fri., 1 p.m.–6 p.m.). Shows are at 8 p.m. on September, 14, 15, 20, and 21.
To purchase tickets