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GOING INTO `TOMMY’ BLIND? HERE’S THE STORY

SHARE GOING INTO `TOMMY’ BLIND? HERE’S THE STORY

Try outlining young Tommy Walker's story for someone unfamiliar with it (except perhaps for such hits as "Pinball Wizard" and "See Me, Feel Me") and you come away sure that you've left out the part about the kitchen sink.

His father, Capt. Walker, is missing after action in World War II (actually, the original album paradoxically made it World War I). Returning unexpectedly after peace is achieved, the captain argues with and, in the original and the new musical, kills his wife's lover. Tommy witnesses the deed and his alarmed parents chant, "You didn't hear it; you didn't see it; you never heard it, not a word of it. You won't say nothing to no one. Never tell a soul what you know is the truth."The boy clams up, withdraws, shuts down. Mysteriously, he's responsive only to his own image in a mirror. Nothing - sexual and physical abuse by an uncle and a cousin, doctors' tests, terrible measures taken by his father in league with others to prompt his re-emergence - brings Tommy back . . . although he is inexplicably facile playing pinball, which earns the semicatatonic boy a measure of pop fame.

Finally, years after the killing, his frustrated mother smashes a mirror - and Tommy is miraculously liberated. He exuberantly sings, "I'm free . . . . "I'm free! And freedom tastes of reality. . . .!" Disciples want to share his experience and, so they suppose, his metaphysical enlightenment; but, in the end, they turn against Tommy, who returns, finally whole, to the bosom of his family.