Good morning! Here’s the scoop! Announcing the cast for Paramount Theatre’s third production of our Broadway Series/Season Four: The Who’s TOMMY! Arguably the first and best rock opera ever, the demands of this performance are staggering requiring triple threat skills from every member of the company. Ladies first, and my oh my, am I a lucky guy to be directing these dynamite women of The Ensemble: Aubrey Adams, Mandy Modic, Amy Orman, Alexandra Palkovic, Olivia Renteria, Laura Savage, Jill Sesso, and Erica Stephan. Yes, a lot of new faces to our audience!

The men are knockin’ it outta the park as well: William Carlos Angulo, Jonathan Butler-Duplessis, Bryan Howard Conner, Matt Deitchman, Josh Kohane, Eric Lewis, Terrance Martin, Jonny Stein, and Neil Stratman. Dear Reader, that is right there one heck of a formidable company of killer singing and dancing chops! Young Lillie Cummings plays Tommy’s no.1 fan “Sally Simpson” and appeared among the tenants of RENT here and since has been starring in Chicago just about everywhere. “The Gypsy” of Acid Queen is none other than powerhouse, flaming haired beauty, Meghan Murphy, who raised the roof as “Joanne” in our RENT. Angel-faced, multi-talented Liam Quealy (“Skimbleshanks” in our CATS) is bully “Cousin Kevin” ’cause no one can sing it like Liam! The drunken, opportunist, pervert “Uncle Ernie” will be portrayed by Jake Klinkhammer (“Rooster” in our ANNIE) in what promises to be an unforgettable performance, creepy and wild! Stunning Hillary Marren is “Mrs. Walker,” and tall, dark and handsome David Schlumpf is “Captain Walker,” Tommy’s parents, making their Paramount Theatre debut as well. Ms. Marren brings a sensual beauty and honest, dramatic intensity matched well by Mr. Schlumpf’s passion and vulnerability, together delivering on dazzling vocals.

Which brings us to Devin DeSantis as “Tommy,” ladies and gentlemen, a young man of remarkable range as a singer and actor, primed to play the varied dimensions of the title role in an auspicious debut here at Paramount. Upon little Tommy’s horrific childhood trauma, DeSantis appears as the child’s alter ego, as guide and as spirit, who narrates for us the amazing journey within the boy’s withdrawn, introverted mind. Eventually and eventfully, he becomes Tommy himself as we watch the lad become a celebrity super-star. Action packed full of operatic-sized emotions this rock and roll universe lifts to a level of symphonic scale that DeSantis masters powerfully vocally remarkable and grittily honest. The young boys playing “Tommy” in our story are extraordinary as this sensitive portrayal requires. I’ve said before that the children in this story endure more than many adults ever could. This speaks to the resiliency of children and how terrifying events can bring about a brilliance within ennobling the humanity in all of us. These young men are Peyton Owen as “4 yo Tommy” and Ricky Falbo as “10 yo Tommy.” Their roles are covered by two super-sharp actors Nolan Moss and Shane Frantz respectively. These four boys are talents absolutely breathtaking and professional.

Another important debut in this production is that of choreographer Brock Clawson recently of The Joffrey Ballet’s “Contemporary Choreographers” program. Here’s a clip of a review from Hedy Weiss on Brock’s work: “Clawson’s great achievement in “Crossing Ashland” is the way he has infused contemporary dance with a quality it too often lacks — a genuine human connection.” More quotes from The Sun-Times: “Impressive polish, complexity and emotional sophistication.” ” Acrobatic and daring.” And from The Chicago Tribune: “delved into rich psychological territory with an unseen force.”

Music Director/Conductor extraordinaire, Tom Vendafreddo, brings his genius to the cast and our Paramount Orchestra sealing the promise of an astonishing live performance designed by Linda Buchanan (sets), Greg Hofmann (lights), Theresa Ham (costumes), Penny Lane Studios (wigs), Sarah Ross (props), Adam Rosenthal (sound) and Mike Tutaj (projections).

Yes, an astounding team of artists gathered expressly for you, our audience and patrons, on a rare production you do not want to miss!

Love & thanks,

Jim