Tommy isn’t just your average every-day story of a traumatised deaf, dumb and blind kid who becomes the new Messiah by playing pinball.
Much more importantly, it’s the nation finest (as well as battiest) rock opera – and therein lies the challenge.
Get it wrong, and Tommy and his tale will appear faintly silly. Get it right, and you’ve got a glorious night in the theatre, pumped up, powerful and brilliant – which is exactly how CCADS are playing it at the Kings this week.
At its best, Tommy has a visceral grip on its audience. At the end, we were all on our feet – without the least recollection of actually standing up. The production just draws you in, holds you in its grip and sends you off with the most spine-tingling of finales.
Company artistic director John-Paul McCrohon is both show director and Captain Walker on stage on a terrific night for him personally and for the company as a whole, especially the band, with Chichester College’s Daf Hughes as MD and on keyboards.
You could argue that The Who’s magnificent sound track is an absolute gift; how could you possibly go wrong? But you’ve still got to get it right, and CCAD’s on-stage band do so superbly.
If there’s a minor criticism, it’s that sometimes the band is just a little too strong for Sean Ridley’s fine vocals as Tommy. A little tinkering with the balance, and Ridley will soar over them just as he should.
But otherwise every ingredient is there, Ridley excellent as the deaf, dumb and blind kid who sure plays a mean pinball – just as CCADs sure play a mean rock opera.
And how terrific to think that this was the very stage on which the Pinball Wizard section of Ken Russell’s 1975 movie was filmed...