No Jackets Required and Off Broadway On Campus are joining together this week to put on The Who’s rock opera, ‘Tommy.” The opera tells the story of a young boy who becomes deaf, dumb and blind after a tragic childhood incident. Throughout the show, various interesting and creative cures are attempted, all of which are unsuccessful, resulting in an entertaining story that integrates the best of The Who. For those out there who are completely musically ignorant, The Who is an English rock band that rose to fame in the 60s, first in the United Kingdom and then in the United States.
While No Jackets Required is a relatively new group on campus, having started only two years ago in the spring of ’07, they have already established themselves on campus. In the short time since their creation, they have worked with two a cappella groups on campus, the Midnight Ramblers and Vocal Point. Now their efforts to connect and work with other groups has led them to an OBOC collaboration.
The idea to do the show first started last spring when senior David LeBlanc from No Jackets Required approached OBOC about doing a rock opera together. This type of performance is different from what either group normally tries. No Jackets Required usually performs jam nights at Hillside Caf and the occasional rock concert of covers but is always looking to do different things. OBOC’s usual fare consists of musical revues, focused on a theme and occasionally containing small skits. OBOC felt that this was a great opportunity to branch out, try something new and expand its productions. In addition to doing a new type of show, OBOC is also excited, because this is the kind of production an audience can really get into, resulting in more of a rock concert atmosphere rather than a quieter recital.
Both groups have had a great time putting this production together and seemed to think that another collaboration in the future is entirely possible. They believe that if this show is successful, it will prove that there is a big enough audience to warrant putting on an entire musical, a project both appear eager to see happen.
No Jackets Required would be especially ecstatic if this were to become a reality since its main goal on campus is to build a larger music community. LeBlanc said that the whole point of the club is to gather and exhibit all the musical talent hidden across campus and wish that all those musicians hanging out in their room playing solo come out and join them.
A great aspect of this show is that both groups bring something different to the table, making this quite the event. When LeBlanc approached OBOC about the rock opera, there were several possibilities thrown around, including ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” ‘Jesus Christ Superstar” and the winning option, ‘Tommy.” Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall” was also considered but was removed from the running due to the need for sets and costumes to make the show really work. The show will utilize both groups’ specialties with OBOC singing the songs and No Jackets Required providing the instrumentals. OBOC also brings its experience by adding onstage lighting to the mix. The show will be split into two parts with a different band playing for each half. OBOC held auditions for the different parts before winter break and had each person learn his or her lines over break via the soundtrack. No Jackets Required also started before break. LeBlanc said that the advantage of splitting the songs up into two separate sections was that it allowed each group to really focus on and learn its songs.
The joint efforts of these two talented groups bode well for this performance. With so much enthusiasm and excitement present, it is sure to be a great show. The performance is on Friday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. in Strong Auditorium.
Schmitt is a member of
the class of 2011.