CSUB Theatre performs The Who’s rock opera, “Tommy”

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Lauren Hill

The cast for "The Who's Tommy" dances to musical number in Act One of their production.

Lauren Hill, Features Editor

  “That deaf, dumb, blind kid sure plays a mean Pinball!” 

  CSU Bakersfield Music and Theatre rocks out during their colorful and exhilarating performance of “The Who’s Tommy.” 

  “Tommy” is The Who’s fourth studio album, released in the summer of 1969 and composed by Pete Townshend. “Tommy” was the original album that coined the term “rock opera;” a collection of music in which the premise, theme, and lyrics of the songs consecutively tell a story. Rock opera albums have since been released by various artists such as My Chemical Romance, Green Day, and Pink Floyd. 

 “Tommy” was adapted into a musical production in 1992, and has become a visual artistic experience depicting a variety of emotional topics.. 

CSUB theatre professor Mandy Rees took on the challenge and directed the multifaceted production. 

  “These are adult topics, though they’re experienced by a child which, many children go through trauma, but this is about a journey and healing from it. It’s usually when you’re past childhood that you can then process all of this,” said Rees. 

  The cast of “The Who’s Tommy” are energetic and versatile in their portrayals of characters. The show is ensemble heavy, and the members took each role they were given, even if it’s nothing like who they are, and ran with it. 

  CSUB freshman and psychology major Benjamin Cornejo plays in the ensemble. This is his first production at a university level.   

  “My favorite part is this one called ‘The Hawker.’ It’s a very charismatic swagger kind of guy, kind of slimy. Honestly it’s pretty cool being able to be the bad guy for a change. Just being that back-alley dude is awesome.” 

  The actors spent much of the last few months dedicated to making this show sensational. 

  “Since this is the first show I’ve done in a long time, I forgot how much time management goes into this. But getting to know all of the people, being an ensemble member, spending that time with all of these people has been a really fun experience,” said CSUB student Silvia Lopez. 

  Some of the actors assisted with building the set as well. 

  “I’m part of the work study crew, so we’ve also been working on the set too, and that was really a big endeavor,” Duke said. 

  While for much of the cast this was their first production at CSUB, others are more seasoned. Both Natalie Love and Jacob Atlai Cota count “The Who’s Tommy” as their fifth show while attending the school. 

  Love plays the title character Tommy, while Cota plays his Uncle Ernie. 

  “Tommy acts as the narrator in the whole first half of the show, so it’s been really interesting watching the action but not being able to take part of it, so I kind of had to find my way around that,” Love said. 

  According to Cota, the cast has built a family-like community. He recalls during the rehearsal process when things got stressful and people were feeling on edge, the cast decided that no matter what they needed to applaud each other and hype each other up after every number. Doing this helped them keep their spirits high. 

  CSUB Music and Theatre ensured an exciting spring musical when they chose to direct “The Who’s Tommy.” 

  “It’s crazy, it’s kooky, it’s fun, it’s kind of absurd at some areas, but it’s just something to experience. And that’s what musicals are here for, to experience them […] It’s all about the feeling, it’s supposed to make you feel something,” Duke said.