How does the saying go, "If you remember the '60's, you weren't there." Well, for all of you who don't remember the '60's, but still have those rock songs rollin' around in your head, The Who's Tommy has returned to the Buell Theatre for a limited run.

Written by Peter Townsend and performed by The Who, Tommy began as an album and concert performances in 1969. Since then, it has been done as a classical recording, a ballet, a motion picture (actually more like an extended music video), and finally, with Townsend's involvement, as a theatrical rock opera.

To be sure, Tommy is a conceptual story, with dancers, singers, and actors episodically performing to a score that tells a story, but it works just as operas work, with classical stories compressed into song sequences with periodic dramatic moments.

Tommy's story is that of a traumatized youth who shuts down his senses and feelings and withdraws from the painful world, with his phenomenal pinball skills the only indication that he is alive. Suddenly, his solitude is shattered and, in his own healing, emerges as a messianic figure that reaches out to a multigenerational audience.

Set against a techno-industrial set that flexes as a bar, a church, an aircraft, a military prison, a court, a hospital, a living room, and a pinball palace, the story moves quickly through a knock-out score that includes Sensation, Acid Queen, Pinball Wizard, I'm Free, We're Not Going to Take It, and the inspired Finale.

Tommy won 5 Tony Awards in 1993, including Best Musical. It runs through Sunday. 303-893-4100.


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