One year ago today, as Toronto was learning about a video of Rob Ford smoking crack, I got to realize my ultimate fantasy: seeing Tommy again. Everything about that night, from playing the Tommy pinball machine before the show to the standing ovation that began even as the final curtain was falling, still has the immediacy of what I was doing five minutes ago. Afterwards I tweeted, “It’s nice to know that at age thirty-two life, and theatre in particular, still has the capacity to astonish me.”
I saw Tommy six times last year, each visit exhilarating in its own right. The first time was the most special, the fifth time the “best” (I left the Avon Theatre that night feeling as though I could fly). The second, which I saw with the Raptor and the Jerk, was when I bumped into director Des McAnuff, shook his hand, and thanked him for bringing Tommy back to life. The third was sloppy–the regular Mrs. Walker, Kira Guloien, had to be taken off at intermission–but I’ll also remember it for how the entire audience jumped out of their seats when the Overture began unannounced. The fourth was emotional: I thought it was the last one, and yes, I cried during “Listening to You.” The fifth and sixth were unexpected bonuses. At the sixth, during “Cousin Kevin,” I called my office; the subsequent, barely audible recording of “Sensation,” greets me whenever I check my messages. Only in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined seeing McAnuff’s version of Tommy again. That it happened, and at Stratford of all places, suggests that we should keep on having our wildest dreams. Sometimes, they just might come true.