jakub | March 30, 2024

On the Red Carpet: The Who’s Tommy Broadway Revival Is ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’


Opening Night

On the Red Carpet: The Who's Tommy Broadway Revival Is ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants'

Go inside the opening night celebration of the Pete Townshend musical with interviews and photos.


John Ambrosino, Alison Luff, Des McAnuff, Ali Louis Bourzgui, Adam Jacogs, and Bobby Conte
Michaelah Reynolds

The opening night red carpet celebration of the Broadway revival of The Who's Tommy was a sensation! The musical officially opened March 28 at the Nederlander Theatre and the players were celebrating the Tommy of the past and the present. 

Recorded as a concept album by The Who in 1969, the rock opera was adapted for film in 1975 but didn't make its stage debut until 1993. That first time around, composer Peter Townshend earned a Tony Award for Best Score and Des McAnuff for Best Direction of a Musical that first time out. This first revival reunited The Who's Townshend with McAnuff for a reimagining of their 1993 hit. Read the reviews for this season's revival here. 

“I've been standing on the shoulders of giants and I've gotten to meet some of those giants,” says Ali Louis Bourzgui of the people involved in all of the iterations of Tommy. The actor is making his Broadway debut as the title character, who at a young age witnesses a murder and then retreats into his psyche, no longer interacting with the world. The only refuge from his traumatic childhood is pinball, at which he has savant capabilities. 

Bourzgui credits director McAnuff for pushing him to his full potential.  “I was trying to like come up with excuses why I wasn't good enough…you know, all these different imposter syndrome things. But he saw me up here and I had to work really hard to meet what he expected of me. And that made me grow so much. I owe a lot to him,” says the new young Broadway star. 

Bobby Conte, who plays Tommy's bully Cousin Kevin, also was gushing about the show's creators and what it means to work with the legends. “I did this show when I was 15 at a community theatre in Half Moon Bay, California. So my partner [playwright Martyna Majok] gave me a picture for opening night of when I was in that show, and saying, ‘Do you think that little kid would ever imagine that he'd be here? Working with the creators?' Working with Des, Working with Pete…It's incredibly surreal,” says Conte. “He makes us better and better every day. And it's an honor to try to live in his vision and step up to his standard.”

Playbill had a little fun on the red carpet with the company of The Who's Tommy. Playing a little game we called “Who's the Tommy,” we gave them clues about other famous Tommys to see how many they could identify. Watch the video below. 

But it wasn't all fun and games on the red carpet. One company member was doing some work on Thursday night! Adam Jacobs, who plays Tommy's father Captain Walker, ran from the Aladdin 10th anniversary celebration red carpet to the Tommy red carpet.

As he told Playbill: “I've run across the street from Aladdin, where I performed that show over 1,000 times, and coming to do this show, which is so drastically different and has so much meat and potatoes. And as an actor, I'm just loving really delving into,” says Jacobs. “I'm getting to really just bite into these vocals in a way that I have never done before. And it's been so gratifying to hear this band and rock out with this band. Yeah, there's nothing like this music.”

Jacobs then ran back over to Aladdin again for a cameo appearance onstage and then ran back to perform in The Who's Tommy

READ: How Adam Jacobs Appeared In Aladdin and The Who's Tommy In One Night

Guests for opening night of The Who's Tommy included Tony-winning rocker Lena Hall and Adam Jacobs' sister Arielle Jacobs, who recently starred in Here Lies Love on Broadway. 

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Photos: The Who's Tommy Broadway Opening Night

The cast also includes Alison Luff as Mrs. Walker, John Ambrosino as Uncle Ernie, and Christina Sajous as The Acid Queen. Sharing the role of Tommy, age four, are Cecilia Ann Popp and Olive Ross-Kline. Tommy, age 10, is shared by Quinten Kusheba and Reese Levine.

The ensemble features Jeremiah Alsop, Ronnie S. Bowman Jr., Mike Cannon, Tyler James Eisenreich, Haley Gustafson, Sheldon Henry, Aliah James, Tassy Kirbas, Lily Kren, Nathan Lucrezio, Alexandra Matteo, Mark Mitrano, Reagan Pender, Daniel Quadrino, Jenna Nicole Schoen, and Andrew Tufano. Rounding out the company as swings are Afra Hines, David Paul Kidder, Brett Michael Lockley, and Dee Tomasetta.

The creative team also includes choreographer Lorin Latarro (Into the Woods), music supervisor Ron Melrose (Jersey Boys), musical director Rick Fox (Rent), set designer David Korins (Hamilton), projection designer Peter Nigrini (Here Lies Love), costume designer Sarafina Bush (for colored girls…), lighting designer Amanda Zieve (Escape to Margaritaville), sound designer Gareth Owen (Back to the Future), and wig and hair designer Charles G. LaPointe (Hamilton). The production also features orchestrations by Steve Margoshes, additional music arrangements by Melrose, and additional orchestrations by Fox. Casting is by Tara Rubin Casting‘s Merri Sugarman with additional Chicago casting by Lauren Port and Rachael Jimenez. Tripp Phillips is the production stage manager, and Bespoke Theatricals is general manager.

Stephen Gabriel and Ira Pittelman lead the producing team.

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Photos: The Who's Tommy on Broadway





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