FAIRFIELD — “The Who’s Tommy” gets off to a rousing start with an air-raid signal, the voices of Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler on radio broadcasts and three explosions.
That’s just the first 1½ minutes of the 4½-minute overture.
The technical challenges of sound are in the hands of Mike Meszaros as Missouri Street Theatre opens its run of the stage production Friday.
Meszaros will unite the sound effects with the music from an eight-piece band, the ensemble and cast members. The story is told through song.
He will employ 24 different sound effects. Some are layered.
The challenge: “How well-timed everything has to be,” he said. “The overture is the most intricate. It’s 4½ minutes.”
He will have 20 body microphones on stage and about 14 in the orchestra pit.
Stage manager Jeff Bristow said his job is to keep everyone on time as much as he can.
“I’ve got to make sure our creative director and cast get what they need,” he said.
He saw The Who perform “Tommy” live in 1984. He wasn’t sure of how the concert would translate to stage, but has now experienced it firsthand.
He takes the reins from the director on opening night.
The sound and lighting are key elements of the production, said Dae Spering, artistic director of Missouri Street Theatre.
Craig Scharfen is handling the lights. A veteran of several local productions, he’s finding some new challenges with “The Who’s Tommy.”
He’s building a two-way mirror that Tommy uses.
The biggest challenge is balancing the rock show with the theater aspect.
“There are only so many lights,” he said. “I have to get a lot of different looks.”
Hits from the 1969 rock opera of “Tommy” by The Who are featured. The 1975 film of “Tommy” added a handful of new songs not on the recording. They weren’t kept for the stage production.
Tommy’s experience with the Acid Queen is different in the stage productions. In the movie and recording, he appears to have taken a drug from the Acid Queen. In the show, his father takes him to see the Acid Queen and changes his mind and leaves before Tommy takes the drug.
The most profound change is the finale. The original ending had Tommy telling his followers to become deaf, dumb and blind. In the stage versions, he tells them the opposite.
Spering feels people will come for the music as the show has some of the band’s biggest hits, such as “See Me, Feel Me,” “Pinball Wizard” and “I’m Free.”
Roseville resident James Nassef handles the role of Tommy. It’s a dream-come-true role for the Fairfield, Conn., native. He gets to fly.
“My favorite shows growing up had flying in them,” he said.
He discovered California on a national tour of “Bye Bye Birdie” in 2009 and fell in love with this area.
“The Who’s Tommy” is the third show in three months from Missouri Street Theatre. “Peter Pan” was the first. “Romeo and Juliet” wrapped up two weeks ago.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.