Rock music paired with explosive visuals make "The Who's Tommy" an electric musical.
"This production of Tommy is vastly different than any production of Tommy that has happened in the past," Michael Valentine with the production said.
It’s a well-known show with a twist. This showing of Tommy uses the Alice and Wonderland plotline to tell the story of a visually and hearing-impaired pinball player.
"All of it translates to today, all of the issues that Tommy deals with growing up, I mean it’s all still happening today all you need to do is turn on the news, and there are stories of abuse and neglect," Valentine said.
Stories play out on the stage that based on the Who's 1969 album with the same title. It was first a film in the ‘70s then the show hit Broadway in 1993.
"I had originally listened to everything to get lyrics into my head, I had just kind of drilled them in a British accent, then when I came here and found out I wasn't doing a British accent that changed everything,” Valentine said.
Creating this experience was not only a challenge for the actors, but also the director.
"When I was looking at it as a director like how does this storyline become acceptable to sit through, the child suffers some sexual abuse, some physical abuse, some taunting and bullying,” director Dave Steakley said.
Though a difficult and unique story, it's one that many can relate to.
"The journey of Tommy is really for him to find himself,” Steakley said. “That turning point that comes at every person's life at which there's a reckoning with who you truly are and who you want to be and how you're going to spend your time and your life so that it's meaningful."
It’s a meaning that takes this musical beyond the performance, sending the audience home with more than a catchy tune stuck in their head.
"They come away kind of surprised that they've been affected by a rock musical like that. You really get why this was a story to be told,” Valentine said.
“The Who's Tommy” plays at the ZACH Theatre through August. Later this fall, the non-profit theatre will bring the “King and I” to the stage.
Click here to learn how you can see the show.