What better reason to come out of
retirement than to act with your son?
Pat Brown, whose involvement in musical theatre went from performing to producing, is enjoying that rare opportunity.
His son, Mitchell Lynch-Brown is playing the title role in The Who’s “Tommy,” Sept. 12-15 at Kelowna Community Theatre.
“I have to say, Mitch reminds me of me when I was his age. Nothing seems to shake him,” Pat said, as his son politely rolled his eyes. “This is one of those total proud dad moments. My son goes into rehearsal and pours his heart into the role. He’s a natural singer.”
Pat, who cut his chops as lead vocalist in the Kelowna rock band Ten2Nine, did all of his musical theatre with Soundstage Productions in Penticton and starred as Scrooge, Fagan in “Oliver,” Sweeney Todd and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” along with a dozen others.
In 2015, he and his best friend Randall Robinson (director and co-producer of “Tommy”) co-wrote and produced “Raft,” an original rock opera which had a revival, two years later at the OZone Theatre Festival.
He then walked away.
After some time away, he agreed to co-produce “Tommy,” but wasn’t going to appear on stage.
“Originally, I didn’t even want to do it because I saw the (1975) movie, which was horrible. But, then Mitch came in for an audition and he crushed it. When he got the role, I thought, ‘when am I ever going to get a chance to do a show with my son?’ Now that I’ve rehearsed it, I love the music and I’m excited.”
Pat has the pivotal role of Captain Walker, Tommy’s father. Father and son appear together in five scenes, but don’t share a song.
Mitch’s acting experience is limited. He was an ensemble member in the original run of “Raft,” and was later promoted to a small speaking role in the show’s revival. He’s listed in the program as “introducing Mitchell Lynch-Brown as Tommy.”
He’s never been in a band, never studied music.
“I’ve been known to do a round of karaoke at Dakoda’s or the Creekside,” he joked.
Mitch grew up watching his father on stage. Even though he idolized his dad, he never had the desire to follow in his footsteps.
“I watched my dad for so many years. I had seen every show he was in. He always said, ‘you should do this, try it, you will get bit by the bug’ — but I never wanted to,” Mitch said, now acknowledging father does know best.
“Once I did ‘Raft,’ I loved it from the very first rehearsal. With ‘Tommy,’ this cast has so much camaradarie. I love going to rehearsals, I love having the chance to work with my father.”
Before auditions, Mitch, like everybody else, knew only “Pinball Wizard.” But, when he had another listen to The Who’s 1969 album, he was surprised how many other songs he recognized, but didn’t realize they were by The Who.
His audition songs were “Amazing Journey” and “Sensation.”
“The music is honestly up my wheelhouse,” Mitch said. “I’m a rocker through and through. The songs touch so many emotions. Tommy goes through one horrible traumatic experience after the next. He’s not really deaf, dumb and blind as the lyrics say, he just shuts himself out from the world. You see him evolve into the man who Tommy is.”
Other well-known songs from the rock opera are “See Me, Feel Me” and “I’m Free,” as both were released as singles. “Pinball Wizard” was the biggest hit from the album, although many fans are more familiar with the cover version by Elton John that was recently included in the biopic “Rocketman.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of “Tommy” and Pat considers the material timeless.
“The story is about social change,” he said. “The things that Tommy goes through in his life, today’s kids are also going through. This story resonates with every generation. The clothing might be different, but the messages are the same.”
Wearing his producer’s hat, Pat praises the entire ensemble which includes two other Tommys (at different ages), Natasha Daly as Mrs. Walker, Josh Richardson as Cousin Kevin, John Van Dyk as Uncle Ernie and Annie Gosling-Scott as the Acid Queen.
The cast will be accompanied by an eight-piece band, which includes a horn section.
“We have a stellar ensemble,” Pat said. From the crew to the band to the principals to the support crew, they’re all among the best I’ve ever worked with. As far as taking a show as complex as ‘Tommy,’ there’s no breaks in the music. It’s one long song until intermission and another in the second act and these experienced actors have got it.”
THE SHOW: The Who’s Tommy, by Peter Townshend and Des McAnuff, additional music and lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon; presented by Theatre Kelowna Society
WHERE: Kelowna Community Theatre, 1375 Water Street
WITH: Pat Brown, Natasha Daly, Josh Richardson, John Van Dyk, Jimmy Leguilloux, Annie Gosling-Scott and introducing Mitchell Lynch-Brown as Tommy
WHEN: Sept. 12-15, all shows 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS: $30 in advance from SelectYourTickets.com or $40 at the door