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'Tommy' Out Of Tune

August 28, 1994

Having lived most of my life in New York and Boston, and as a 10-year resident of Los Angeles, I have felt starved for good theater during my time here. This rang ever so true this past week when, after seeing the ad in last Sunday's Times for all remaining seats to "Tommy" at the Universal Amphitheatre for half price, I decided to take my wife Friday evening.

A major Broadway musical at the Universal Amphitheatre? Well, for half price, what can be so bad? Everything! Parking one mile from the theater for $6. The box office? What a joke! A rude clerk telling us there are half-price tickets for certain shows only. The advertised prices all carried surcharges because all sales were done through Ticketmaster. We purchased balcony seats advertised at $14 for $17.50; the Friday-night performance was empty, between 500 and 800 in a 6,000-plus arena, hence we sat in the best seats.

Any seating, other than direct center, was distorted because this is a concert amphitheater, not a stage theater. The sound was also bad; the special effects sometimes distorted the dialogue.

The show, and the performers seemed good, but lackluster in this awful excuse for a theater, and how strong can performances be playing to empty seats?

BRUCE CAMPBELL

Redondo Beach

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