Arindam Krishna Das on the making of another smashing rock opera featuring local youth
Arindam Krishna Das is not afraid of taking risks when it comes to his theatrical productions. Since directing his first play at Little People’s Repertory Theater nearly 15 years ago, Das has developed a reputation around Santa Cruz County for his unique artistic vision, go-big-or-go-home mentality, and ability to breathe new life into classic musicals, from “Annie” to “The Rocky Horror Show.” Das plans to continue that tradition this month at San Lorenzo Valley High School, where he will unveil The Who’s “Tommy” on Feb. 15.
Thirty-two SLVHS students will help tell the story of Tommy Walker, a “deaf, dumb and blind boy” who becomes the leader of a messianic movement after discovering his inexplicable mastery of the pinball machine. The rock opera, based on Pete Townshend’s 1969 eponymous double-album which sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, features a number of chart-toppers, including “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “See Me, Feel Me” and “Pinball Wizard,” and implores the audience to reflect on the social norms of the 1950s and today.
In the days leading up to opening night, we sat down with Das to discuss the art of the rock opera, what it takes to put on a production of this magnitude, and what he hopes the audience will take away from “Tommy.”