Tommy Can You Hear Me?

Tommy Can You Hear Me?

The Who’s rock opera hits the Workhouse this winter.

When English rock legends “The Who,” took on the story of “Tommy,” to create the first rock opera, it blossomed into a play, a movie with Elton John wearing a huge pair of boots, and a story of a deaf, dumb and blind kid playing unbelievable pinball. It was the 1970s, but “Tommy” saved The Who’s career as part of the British Rock phenomena and now has landed at the Workhouse Art Center’s stage in Lorton.

“Based on the iconic 1969 rock album, the story of the pinball-playing boy who triumphs over adversities has inspired and amazed audiences for more than 40 years,” the Workhouse description reads.

Fairfax resident Jackie Madejski has the role of Tommy’s mother and at the age of 29, she wasn’t around in the mid 1970s but remembers a car trip with the family to Disneyland. “My brother sang The Who the whole time,” she said. Her father didn’t threaten to stop the car on the roadside either. “My dad was a really big Who fan.”

Jackie Madejski 


In the movie, Ann-Margret plays Tommy’s mother who has an extra marital affair, leading to murder and there’s a song for the peaks and valleys of the theatrical presentation. At the Workhouse, there’s more music than anything, and it carries the story through the ups and downs of Tommy’s life. Juliana Cooper plays Tommy, and “she’s really grounded in her part,” Madejski said.

Madejski has been in a couple of Workhouse productions and jumped into the role without seeing Ann-Margret playing her evil mother part, or Elton John’s oversized boots as he hammered out his version of the “Pinball Wizard,” song in 1975. The movie and album have history, but that was years ago and Madejski is now. “I want to come at it from my own place,” she said. Since it’s all singing, it has its own stress for the cast. “I am trying to match the intensity of Roger Daltry singing,” Madejski said. Daltry played Tommy in the movie and is lead singer of the Who.

Pinball Wizard was a hit by The Who in 1969 and again by Elton John in 1975, reaching the top 40 with Casey Kasem back in the day. In 1975, the film won the award for Rock Movie of the Year in the First Annual Rock Music Awards. Jack Nicholson and Tina Turner were in the film also, and Mick Jagger tried out for one of the parts.

If you go...

Dates: Sun Dec 31, 2023 – Sun Feb 11, 2024 

Fri/Sat at 8pm, Sun at 2pm

*Sun Dec 31 tickets are priced higher, and include a post-performance NYE reception with Midnight Champagne toast to welcome in the New Year

W-3 Theater

9518 Workhouse Way

Lorton, VA, 22079