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Oanh Nguyen Brings The Who’s Tommy to Anaheim’s Chance

July 1, 2010

The trick to directing The Who’s Tommy for director Oanh Nguyen (Po Boy Tango at East West Players and others) is referring to the script – and only the script. “I’ve never seen the movie and I don’t intend to,” says Nguyen, who also co-founded the Chance Theater in 1999 and is its Artistic Director. “Maybe when the run’s over we’ll watch it as a cast. But, from what I hear,” he adds, “this show will be very different from the movie.”

Mark Barlett as Tommy

The movie came out in 1975 and garnered Academy Award nominations for Ann-Margret (Best Actress) and Pete Townshend (for scoring and film adaptation). It followed The Who’s 1969 album that Townshend masterminded with songs that put a period on a decade that brought baby boomers through two Kennedy assassinations, a civil rights movement, Woodstock and a moon landing. Then Des McAnuff’s 1992 La Jolla Playhouse production ran on Broadway for over two years and garnered five Tony Awards including Best Score. So it begs the question: How do today’s 20-something actors put their own stamps on such an iconic piece?

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