Ziegfeld Theatre unlocks ‘The Who’s Tommy’ in Park City
Ziegfeld Theater Company will present “The Who’s Tommy” for four weekends starting Friday, July 6, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. Curtain for Thursday through Saturday is 8 p.m. Sunday curtain is 6 p.m. Thursday tickets range from $29 to $45. Friday, Saturday and Sunday tickets range from $35 to $55. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.parkcityshows.com.
Many music aficionados know The Who’s 1969 concept breakthrough signature piece “Tommy.”
The rock opera, featuring the songs “Pinball Wizard,” “See Me, Feel Me” and “Listening to You,” is about Tommy — a “deaf, dumb and blind kid,” who overcomes his adversities and rises to superstardom. The 1992 musical, “The Who’s Tommy,” which is based on the album, is a five-time Tony Award winner.
This year, Ziegfeld Theater Company from Ogden will bring the production to Park City for a four-weekend run at the Egyptian Theatre.
Tommy, portrayed by Jeremy Gross, loses his sensory abilities as a child after witnessing his father, a World War II veteran who had been presumed dead (played by Cameron Kaptenov), shoot his mother’s boyfriend in a jealous rage. The story is about how Tommy overcame his trials to become a cultural icon, only to be turned on by his followers. It also examines the societal pressures Tommy’s parents face as he embarks on this journey.
Heidi Hunt, Ziegfeld Theater’s production manager, portrays Tommy’s mother, Mrs. Walker.
“There was a lot of discovery that went in playing this character,” Hunt said. “It was about figuring out who the character was and supporting Tommy, but also her husband Captain Walker.”
Hunt wanted not only to show the nurturing side of the character, but also place herself in the poast World War II social norms.
“Things were so different back then,” Hunt said. “I had to keep reminding myself how it would be to having people watch her and the pressure of maintaining the facade that everything was normal in her family.”
The actress also said she wanted to bring a sense of humanity to the role.
“I wanted to show just how broken up Mrs. Walker really is because of what happened to her son, while keeping up these appearances,” Hunt said. “And it was hard for me to act as a person who would throw in the towel, because that is something I haven’t done before.”
Working alongside Kapetanov and Gross helped Hunt sculpt Mrs. Walker’s character.
“Once I was on stage with both of them and doing runs, I saw how committed they were, and that helped make everything mesh together,” she said. “It was easy for me to sink into the family relationship, but honestly, I really didn’t get it until we started to rehearse.”
One of Hunt’s favorite moments is when Tommy sings to his mother after emerging out of his silence.
“For most of the show, he doesn’t interact with me, even though I sing to him,” she said. “And that makes the scene so powerful when he finally does sing to me. Jeremy is just a phenomenal actor. His energy is incredible and he just goes for it.”
Another of her favorite scenes comes during the instrumental interlude called “Sparks.”
“This is when Captain and Mrs. Walker are taking Tommy (from) doctor to doctor trying to find out what is wrong with him,” Hunt said. “There re no lyrics in this scene, but it is an amazing scene.”
The pre-adolescent and teen Tommies are portrayed by Hunt’s daughters — Grace Hunt and Annie Potter respectively.
“It’s been crazy working with them,” Hunt said. “I’m singing in their faces, and they just keep it together and do it.
“Annie knew she wanted to do this role, but we really didn’t know about Grace,” Hunt said. “But she is doing it.”