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Stratford Festival

Tommy Inspires World-Record Pinball Play

Stratford Festival logoThe Stratford Festival is officially home of one of the newest Guinness World Records. One hundred “pinball wizards” took over First Canadian Place in Toronto May 16 to successfully log the greatest number of pinball machines being played simultaneously at a single venue.

At 12:40 p.m., participants synchronically launched their silver balls and played one complete game as hundreds of onlookers cheered from the sidelines. The record was made official by Guinness World Records adjudicator Philip Robertson.

An event celebrating the opening of the Festival’s much-anticipated rock musical, Tommy, Pinballapalooza also featured performances by Tommy cast members Robert Markus, Paul Nolan, Gabriel Antonacci, and Matthew Armet.

Tommy is the biggest musical we have ever mounted in Stratford,” Executive Director Anita Gaffney said in a press release, “and what better way to celebrate it than by throwing a larger-than-life pinball tournament that would impress even Tommy, the pinball wizard himself? It was very rewarding to see so many people come out in support of this event. Whether they came to play pinball, to catch a sneak peek at our sensational production, or just to be a part of history, it was a fun opportunity to showcase our theater to a wider audience.”

For those who could not attend, the Festival offers two other opportunities to practice their pinball moves: a Tommy-inspired pinball machine found at different locations in Stratford throughout the season and a virtual pinball game at tommypinball.com.
Based on The Who’s 1969 concept album of the same name, Tommy tells the story of a young man who, despite having lost the faculties of speech, sight, and hearing, becomes a pinball virtuoso and the center of a celebrity cult. In a new production helmed by its original Tony Award–winning director Des McAnuff (who co-wrote the show with The Who’s Pete Townshend), the explosive rock opera spotlights such unforgettable hits as “Pinball Wizard,” “See Me, Feel Me,” “Acid Queen,” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

The production features Robert Markus as Tommy, Jewelle Blackman as the Gypsy, Kira Guloien as Mrs. Walker, Jeremy Kushnier as Captain Walker, Paul Nolan as Cousin Kevin, and Steve Ross as Uncle Ernie.

Choreographer Wayne Cilento, Set Designer John Arnone, Costume Designer David C. Woolard, and Fight Director Steve Rankin, key members of the original creative team, have reunited for this production to join Musical Director and Supervisor Rick Fox, Lighting Designer Howell Binkley, Sound Designer Andrew Keister, and Projection Designer Sean Nieuwenhuis.

Tommy officially opens on May 30 and runs until October 19. Tommy is sponsored by Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Production support is generously provided by Richard Rooney & Laura Dinner and by the Ontario government.

Videos of the event on YouTube:

May 20, 2013

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