The Who's Tommy Auditions

The Who's Tommy Auditions tommy-square.jpg

All auditions are open, and no roles are pre-cast.

Auditions for The Who's Tommy will take place at the Exit 7 Players Theater, 37 Chestnut Street, Ludlow, MA.

Based on the iconic 1969 rock concept album, The Who's Tommy is an exhilarating story of hope, healing and the human spirit. The story of the pinball-playing, “deaf, dumb and blind boy” who triumphs over his adversities has inspired, amazed and puzzled audiences for more than 50 years. This five-time Tony Award-winning musical was translated to the stage by theatrical wizard, Des McAnuff, and is a high-energy, one-of-a-kind theatrical event.

Directed by Michael O. Budnick
Music and Sound Supervised by George Garber Jr.
Choreography by Janeen Connor
Instrumental Accompaniment by Cadre Prime

Audition Dates

November 10
3-5pm: All adults and teens, vocal and dance, principals, supporting principals and ensemble

5-6:30pm: Adult/teen principals/supporting principals, vocal and acting

November 12
6-8pm: All adults and teens, vocal and dance, principals, supporting principals and ensemble

8-9:30pm: Adult/teen principals, supporting principals, vocal and acting

Auditionees will not need to attend both dates. Please try to arrive at least 10 minutes before start time. Not all auditionees will need to stay for the entire session. To make auditions run more smoothly please fill out the audition form (attached) in advance and bring it with you. Also, please bring a current headshot, if you have one.

November 17
3-5pm: All children followed by principal callbacks by appointment 5-7pm (if necessary.) Children will be called in the order of arrival and may leave after their audition.

Rehearsal and Production Dates

Rehearsals are scheduled to start in late January on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoon or evenings (depending on other show schedules) in Ludlow, MA. Not all actors may be required for all rehearsals. There may be some meetings with principals prior to rehearsal start.  

Tech week starts April 19 and actors must be available all week in the evenings.

Performances are April 24-26, May 1-3, 8-10 at 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2pm on Sundays.

Reference materials:

THIS IS NOT THE MOVIE! The infamous 1970’s film was a product of its time; a campy, flashy period piece with a director famous for his horror-comedy genre.  The Broadway stage production is much truer to the original concept album and ballet version, alternating pathos, spirituality, excitement, and life-affirming healing and hope.

A copy of the piano-vocal score for musical selections will be made available to auditionees via Google Drive and the full score may be available elsewhere on the web through services such as Scribd.

A search for “Tommy Original Broadway Cast” will pull up a YouTube or other sites’ archive of the original Broadway album https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nXMaFbVCG_0FUrusoEmS76OVQfOd3Lp5E

Also, on YouTube, there is at least one poorly shot audience video of each act of closing night of the original Broadway production. You can also find a few professionally shot videos of individual numbers and highlights from the Broadway, Stratford and London versions that will give you a good sense of stage production.

Piano/Vocal Music selections for principals, supporting principals and soloists is located here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1uCmbbtf3NjIQCAlSf-S6k7iCMp4YUbwW NOTE: This music is the property of MTI and may not be duplicated or shared digitally.

Finally, if you are unfamiliar with the original concept album of The Who’s Tommy, have a listen to the original record which is widely available on the internet.

Vocal, Movement Requirements & Audition Info.

AUDITIONS

The group auditions on Sunday, November 10 and Tuesday, November 12 are for teens and adults that want to be principals, supporting principals or ensemble with or without solos, other than 4 and 10yo Tommy. All adult and teen auditionees should arrive by 3pm on Sunday OR 6pm on Tuesday. You will learn a dance routine and vocals for the song “Pinball Wizard” and perform it as a group, with some rotating vocal soloists selected at random. Please familiarize yourself with this song - particularly the chorus - by accessing the reference materials noted above. Auditionees for supporting principals that that have solos, along with principals, will be asked to stay for individual vocal and/or character auditions. Please see character descriptions for more information, vocal range and songs. Again, children auditioning for the young Tommy parts should not attend these audition dates.

Recommended but not required: Send us a clip or link to a video of you “rocking out” to your favorite rock song or rock-style show tune! Send to thewhostommy@exit7players.org

Please watch this space periodically for any more detailed audition material links.   

Principals, Supporting Principals and Soloists

All auditions for principal,  supporting principal and soloist roles will be required to sing at least one of the indicated songs/passages from the show and possibly another song of your choice in the style of the show. If possible, please bring a backing track of your song, preferably with full orchestral accompaniment, the theater has playback capabilities for most media. Tracks will be provided for songs from the show.

Children (4 and 10 year old Tommy)

Please note we will be auditioning any gender for these roles. Children will be asked to sing the indicated songs/passages from the show and possibly another song of your choice in the style of the show.  You may be given some dialog to read. You will likely be asked to react to certain situations, both as a neurotypical kid and as a child who has lost the ability to see, hear and talk.

Character Descriptions, Principals

Nora Walker F, Principal, playing ages 16-early 30s, vocal – pop/rock mezzo soprano G3-D6 – good mover, principal vocalist. Mrs. Walker is Tommy’s mom. We first meet her as a teenage war bride who then endures the loss of her husband and the father of her unborn child. Captain Walker’s unexpected return leads to the tragic violence that results in Tommy’s catatonia. Her fierce love and concern for her son is always evident. After years of guilt, dealing with Tommy’s disability and seeking diagnosis and treatments, she becomes increasingly frustrated and disconsolate. Her anger finally shocks Tommy back to his senses – but then she must navigate his fame, fortune and eventual downfall.  Requires a very strong vocalist and actor who can sing with a wide range of emotions and carry entire scenes. Songs: I Believe My Own Eyes, Smash the Mirror (parts)

Captain Walker, M, Principal, playing 20s to mid-30s, vocal range tenor F3-C#5, good mover, principal vocalist . Captain Walker – presumed lost in the war, returns suddenly to find his wife and child in the presence of another man. In the violent struggle that ensues, he shoots and kills the lover – but is found to have acted in self-defense.  He is the steadfast voice of reason that holds the family together through the ensuing trauma, but he becomes increasingly distant from his wife and son as he deals with the guilt of his actions and its effect on Tommy. He searches for unconventional cures, but is wary and protective of his son. His distance only seems to increase as his son gains fame. Songs: I Believe My Own Eyes, Christmas (parts)

Uncle Ernie –M,  Supporting Principal, playing 20s to 40s – age can be flexible,  vocal range bari-tenor G2-Bb4, some movement, character soloist. Introduced at first as a seemingly helpful relative during wartime, Uncle Ernie turns out to be hiding a terrible secret. He is a lecherous alcoholic who, it is strongly suggested, has been sexually abusing young Tommy .  He is left alone to mind the boy and sings a creepy song in which he narrates his intent to “Fiddle About.” Fortunately, Tommy’s parents return before anything happens - this time.  Ernie seems “normal,” if a bit tipsy, man – not outwardly a monster; the scariest type of invisible abuser. Later he figures out a way to profit off of Tommy’s fame and opens holiday “camps” for Tommy’s followers. Songs: Fiddle About, Tommy’s Holiday Camp

Tommy (4 year old)  M, may be played by child of any gender, playing a 4yo but the actor is typically a bit older due to the demands of the role. Vocal range - soprano., singer preferred but could be lip-synched if a suitable singing actor is not found. Solos, duets and trios. 4yo Tommy witnesses the killing of his mother’s lover by his father – by way of a mirror. His parents forcefully tell him he never heard, saw or will speak of the event again. He is traumatized into a catatonic state – he cannot hear, see or speak and experiences the world only through vibrations. He transitions from being a normal, playful boy to being locked in his own mind. According to Pete Townshend, the composer and lyricist, Tommy translates everything he experiences – particularly vibrations, into his own internal music and images.  As Tommy ages, 4yo Tommy reappears in several later, crucial scenes as an apparition and reminder of his childhood trauma and his longing for connectedness. This actor must have excellent self-control and awareness of his/her body and facial expressions. He has only one spoken line, but some of the most important, emotional singing lines and plays a critical, recurring character throughout the play. Songs: See Me, Feel Me and Listening to You (upper part)

Tommy (10-year-old) M, playing 10yo but actor can be older, may be played by any gender (unchanged voice,) singer preferred. Vocal range soprano. Solos, duets and trios. See 4yo Tommy for character’s background. 10yo Tommy appears deaf, blind and is unable to talk. He is subjected to mock physical abuse and bullying onstage and there is the suggestion he has been sexual abused.  Oddly, he spends a lot of time in front of the mirror where he witnessed the traumatic events described above.  It is 10yo Tommy who first displays his pinball playing talent. Like his 4yo counterpart, 10yo Tommy is a critical character who appears in later scenes as an apparition and reminder of Tommy’s childhood trauma – during which he sings some emotional solos, duets and trios. This actor must have excellent control over body and facial expressions and be able to experience a lot of noise, singing, activity and physical contact without flinching or breaking from the catatonic character. Parents are cautioned as to the adult nature of the situations faced by this character and played out by the actors in some scenes. However, 10yo Tommy will not be in The Hawker or Acid Queen sequence (as in some productions) – where we have Tommy more appropriately as a late teenager. We will of course handle both the Cousin Kevin and Uncle Ernie scenes with great sensitivity to our young actor and his well-being. Songs: See me, Feel Me and Listening to You (lower part.)

Tommy (teen/adult) and Narrator, M, Principal, vocal range high tenor Db3-B4, good mover, principal vocalist.  See child Tommy descriptions for his background. Traumatized into catatonia as a young child, he seems to only see himself and perhaps other reflections in the mirror, and later is found to respond to some vibrations. As a child and teen, he is subjected to dubious scam artists and cure-alls and is abused by various relatives and locals. When he is jokingly placed in front of a pinball machine at the local youth center, he is found to have an uncanny knack for the game, apparently using only vibrations and reflections. He becomes an unlikely pinball champion and celebrity. When he is shocked out of his catatonic state by his mother, he is celebrated as a cult-like figure and spiritual leader. However, he begins to question his status and supposed wisdom. His fans ultimately reject him amid his uncertainty, and he is left to find understanding, connectedness and redemption in the love of his family. Teen/Adult Tommy first appears as a narrator inviting his childhood self on the “Amazing Journey” -  locked in his own mind and experiencing/interpreting the world entirely through vibrations.  He returns as narrator during “Sensation” when his younger self is discovered playing pinball. Later, when he is “cured” he sings a number of powerful, iconic songs. This principal must have tremendous vocal and acting range, strong control over body, movement and facial expressions, must be able to sing both sweetly/emotionally and like a rock star and be able to carry a scene with show-stopping numbers. Songs: I’m Free, Sensation, See Me/Feel Me (narrator/Adult Tommy part)

Cousin Kevin/Ensemble M, Supporting Principal, vocal range tenor Ab2-B4, playing ages teens to late 20s-early 30s, dancer, strong vocalist with powerful solos. Kevin is the sadistic older cousin of Tommy. He is a schoolyard bully and sings a powerful song about all the awful things he’d like to do to Tommy. He is certainly a scary bully, but the song is full of typical bully exaggeration. In the end he and his friends mostly taunt and humiliate Tommy. Later, Cousin Kevin becomes a Tommy fanboy and protector, forming an almost Gestapo-like security detail around him. He is also one of the trio that sings Pinball Wizard in this stage production. Kevin has a lot of powerful solo singing. Requires a strong soloist and a convincingly mean character actor. Songs: Cousin Kevin, Pinball Wizard

The Hawker/Ensemble M or F, adult any age, dancer, soloist, vocal range baritone. He is a pimp who sings a blues song to lure Captain Walker into arranging a “date” for teenage Tommy. He believes his woman’s magical sensual powers will cure Tommy of his catatonia. Good singer of blues/rock genre. Song: The Hawker

Gypsy (Acid Queen)/Ensemble, character identifies as female but actor may be any gender, any age, vocal – belt G3-F5, dancer, powerful solo vocalist.  An over the top prostitute and drug addict, who believes that the combination of her sensuality and drugs will “cure” Tommy. This character sings a show-stopping musical number and it requires an actor who can carry that off. Song: Acid Queen

The Specialist/Ensemble, character is identified as male but may be played by M/F, any age, vocal high bari-tenor G#3-F4, dancer, character solo.  A doctor who specializes in psychosomatic trauma, the parents take adult Tommy to The Specialist in a desperate attempt to find a cure as their marriage begins to unravel. He sings a deceptively simple song, but it is full of meaning and in many ways this musical number is an emotional heart of the story that also contains some of its most iconic rhythms and music. It is here where we are really introduced for the first time to the depth and longing of Tommy’s inner life and his desire for connectedness.  The Specialist helps us understand that it is all up to Tommy to find his way back to us. He is kind, gentle, serious and dedicated and you can feel his/her empathy and understanding for Tommy and his family. Song: Go to the Mirror, Boy

Sally Simpson/Ensemble   F, playing teen, dancer, solos, vocal range soprano belt F3-D5.  An enthusiastic but immature fangirl of Tommy after he is “cured.” Her father is a Reverend, but she has embraced Tommy, as have many fans, as her own personal messianic figure and spiritual guide. She is told to stay home but sneaks out to go to one of his rallies. She tries to climb the stage to touch him but is thrown off by one of Cousin Kevin’s security thugs and beaten, causing Tommy to come down and cradle her and realize it has all gone too far. Sally has several solos during a ballad that narrates her story, then sings a sweet “how can we follow you” solo to Tommy added to the stage version just prior to the finale. Song: Sally Simpson (parts)

Supporting characters drawn from the Ensemble:

Lover,  playing early 20s  dancer, vocal - tenor. He has a brief, tender solo and duet early in the play before his is killed by Captain Walker. We don’t know a whole lot about him, but unlike the movie he is not usually played as a lout but as an regular guy who is just in the wrong place at the wrong time and may have some anger management issues. Song: 21 (Parts)

Pinball Champs (2), M/F playing teens-20s, dancer and strong solo vocalists. Sings a solo in Pinball Wizard, which in the stage version evolves from solo, to duet, to trio, then ensemble. Song: Pinball Wizard

Nurse(s),  F any age, mezzo soprano. There are two scenes where a nurse has an important solo and duet, and an additional scene with extensive pantomime and movement. Good solo singer and mover.  May double as “It’s a Boy” nurse and Specialist’s assistant.  Songs: It’s a Boy and Go to the Mirror, Boy

2nd Hawker and Harmonica Soloist, bari-tenor M/F any age- pimp who sings a duet with the Hawker and plays blues harmonica. Song: The Hawker

Ensemble

All types (playing late teen – young adult) with strong voices and ensemble dance abilities. Will portray various characters as we move through time and location with some solos, duets and a few spoken lines. These include: Minister, Second Officer, Nurses, Soldiers, Judge, First Barrister, Second Barrister, Relatives, Minister’s Wife, Local Lads/Security Guards, Local Lasses, The Specialist’s Assistant, News Vendor, Mrs. Simpson, & Reverend Simpson.

This is a rock opera - almost entirely a singing show. All ensemble members should be strong, passionate singers and able to move.

Download: Audition-Form-Tommy---Children.pdf
Download: Audition-Form-Tommy-Adult-Teen.pdf