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“A revelatory staging”

The Who’s Tommy – the original rock opera – is a sprawling, kaleidoscopic storytelling experience. So it makes sense for Kerry Michael’s staging – a co-production between the New Wolsey Theatre and disabled theatre consortium Ramps on the Moon – to be sprawling and kaleidoscopic too. And, brilliantly, liberatingly, it is.

The concept is inspired. A musical about a young child shocked into “deafness, dumbness and blindness” by the death of his dapper RAF dad, staged by disabled and non-disabled performers. Michael’s cast – some in wheelchairs, some with hearing aids, some voiced by back-up singers – knock the stuffing out of Pete Townshend’s score, finding layer upon layer of parallelism without ever sacrificing drama or drive.

William Grint is remarkable in the title role, investing the traumatised Tommy with oceans of emotion yet barely saying a word. Max Runham is equally good as the charismatic, compassionate ghost of his father, as is Alim Jayda as his weaselly stepdad, Frank. Sublime voices abound, particularly from Runham, from Shekinah McFarlane, who voices Donna Mullings’ Nora, and from original cast member Peter Straker, who’s Acid Queen – a jaded, over-the-hill drag act – is revelatory.

It’s all brought together in spectacular style on Neil Irish’s folding, projection-splashed, metallic set, with Mark Smith’s choreography – an exuberant extrapolation of sign language – ensuring accessibility for all. An eye-opening, awe-inspiring, extraordinary evening.


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Production Details
Production nameTommy
VenueNew Wolsey Theatre
StartsMarch 30, 3017
EndsApril 15, 2017, then touring until July 1
Running time2hrs 20mins
ComposerJohn Entwistle, Keith Moon, Pete Townshend
Book writerDes Mcanuff, Pete Townshend
LyricistJohn Entwistle, Keith Moon, Pete Townshend
DramaturgPaul Sirett
DirectorKerry Michael
Musical directorRobert Hyman
ChoreographerMark Smith
Set designerNeil Irish
Lighting designerArnim Friess
Sound designerAndrew Johnson
Video designerArnim Friess
Casting directorPolly Jerrold
CastAlim Jayda, Adam Langstaff, Amelia Cavallo, Amy Trigg, Anthony Snowden, Becky Barry, Donna Mullings, Garry Robson, Hearns Sebuado, Julian Capolei, Lukus Alexander, Matthew Jacobs-Morgan, Max Runham, Natasha Julien, Natasha Lewis, Peter Straker, Robert Hyman, Shekinah Mcfarlane, Stacey Ghent, Steve Simmons, Tony Qunta, William Grint
TechnicalDaryl Jackson, David Young, Jeni Draper, Nikki Charlesworth
ProducerNew Wolsey Theatre, Ramps on the Moon
VerdictAn exuberant, inclusive and revelatory staging of Pete Townshend's classic rock opera
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Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

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