Venture Theatre and The Who’s Tommy

September 22, 2012 @ 8:36 pm by jodie

Tommy is a very personal tale.

Very personal indeed.

Producing Artistic Director, Robert Brian Wood, has had The Who’s Tommy integrated into his soul from the beginning of his existence.  Reminiscing about running through the fields of his childhood country home, Robert remembers being able to hear the music of this play turned up full blast from his dad’s hi-fi. There are themes throughout the work that touch on some his own experiences.  Many of the props and toys, such as the trike, are his.  The triumph that comes towards the end leaves him in tears every time.  I’d say it’s pretty rad he gets to produce and direct something so cathartic and so very groovy.

And he does it with finesse and great skill.

And lucky for you and me, Venture always ensures some big laughs!!

If you don’t know who The Who is- I will share a brief history so you can become cool. As per good old Wikipedia: “The Who are an English rock band formed in 1964 by singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon. They became known for energetic live performances which often included instrument destruction. Released in 1969, Tommy is the fourth album by English rock band The Who. A double album telling a loose story about a “deaf, dumb and blind boy” who becomes the leader of a messianic movement, Tommy was the first musical work to be billed overtly as a rock opera. In 1998 it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for “historical, artistic and significant value”. It has sold over 20 million copies worldwide.”

I cannot help but gush about our local talent.  Billings is actually loaded with very talented individuals and we are fortunate to have outlets such as community theater to showcase it.  The four leads played by Travis Kuehn (older Tommy), Kievan McCave (younger Tommy), Vanessa Dent (Mrs. Walker) and Sam Herbert (Mr. Walker) expertly took me on the journey of Tommy.  Mrs. and Mr. Walker’s singing was rich and bold and passion filled.  Young Tommy wowed me with the emotion he conveyed while mostly being relegated to a catatonic state throughout the work.  Older Tommy’s performance radiated all over the stage. The chorus powerfully moved me through one emotion after another.

And the Acid Queen (Christie Anderson) gave me some insight to what dropping acid just might be like…

The musicians were highly visible, of course, as they were integral to the production.  They did The Who justice and rocked the audience out!

The costuming, created by Zachary Sheets and assisted by Kim Welch, has it’s own fun story.  Zach took up sewing by default a few years ago. Unfortunately, the costumer fell and could not continue her work during a production. Fortunately Mr. Sheets decided to give designing and sewing costumes a big whirl.  He found he had an exceptional knack for it.  Having studied architecture, he approached the clothing from that basis and carefully considered each actors shape and skin tone.  You will notice (when you attend the musical) that everyone’s clothes fit really well.  This current production had roots in the 50′s and 60′s.  He knew that the undergarments would be key to the structural shape of the costumes and so everyone was wearing authentic 50′s underwear and it totally worked!  Most of the dresses were made from old bed sheets, tablecloths and curtains.  I let it be known I would love to have a Zachary Sheets original dress made for me someday and dang it if he didn’t say yes!!

You will absolutely enjoy Tommy.  It gets a little bawdy and a bit wild and you wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s possible you will find a girl in a poofy skirted dress in your lap or pulled out of your seat to dance in front of the stage. Someone might even swig your beer. It’s part of the VERY fun ride that will rescue you from sitting in front of your flat screen again next weekend. Or even tomorrow- there are still some tickets available so move towards your phone and dial up Venture Theatre!!

Sunday Sept. 23, 2012 2:00PM

Friday Sept. 28, 2012 8:00PM

Saturday Sept. 29, 2012 8:00PM

Sunday Sept. 30, 2012 2:00PM

Venture Theatre

406 591 9535

2317 Montana Avenue  Billings MT 59101


Jodie Tenicin Smith   the photo chik

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