Music and Lyrics by Pete Townshend
Book by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff
Additional music and lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Quarry Theatre
Press Night Thursday 4 May, 7.30pm
Thursday 4 – Saturday 13 May
Lead songwriter of The Who Pete Townshend has written two new songs exclusively for the touring production of Tommy, produced by the New Wolsey Theatre in co-production with Ramps on the Moon and directed by Kerry Michael. A new version of ‘Amazing Journey’ will open the show, and after her iconic Act One song Acid Queen, played by original cast member Peter Straker, will make a return in Act Two with a new torch song.
Tommy is part of Ramps On The Moon, a ground-breaking project which signals a change in the UK’s disability arts provision, and Peter Straker will be joined on stage by an inclusive cast of Deaf and disabled and non-disabled actors including Lukus Alexander, Alim Jayda, Donna Mullings, Garry Robson, Max Runham, Amy Trigg, and William Grint in the title role. Ramps on the Moon’s previous show, The Government Inspector, has just been nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre.
Tommy plays in Leeds at West Yorkshire Playhouse 4 – 13 May. There will be a Relaxed performance on 11th May 1.30pm.
In the Ramps on the Moon production, young Tommy witnesses the murder of his father by his mother’s lover, and is so traumatised that he chooses to stop communicating with the outside world. He grows up in post WWII England where he suffers abuse from relatives and others in the wider community. As an adolescent, Tommy’s life begins to change when he finds salvation in playing pinball…
Pete Townshend said, “When I heard the there was a new planned production of Tommy, I was pleased of course. But when I heard they planned to do a production featuring actors with disabilities of various kinds, that will actually throw new light on the original story, I became very excited. This is a totally new adventure, and really does refer back to my original story in which a young man, disabled by extreme trauma, finds his way to some kind of spiritual place because he can FEEL music. I can’t wait to see it.”
The Who’s Tommy is an iconic rock opera which has entertained and intrigued audiences for more than 40 years. The original concept album composed by Pete Townshend was the fourth album released by the band in 1969. The rock opera was then resurrected through various media including an orchestral version by Lou Reizner in 1972, a film in 1975 with a star studded cast including the likes of Tina Turner, Elton John and the band members themselves, before coming to the stage at the Queen’s Theatre in 1979. The Broadway revival in 1992 won various awards including five Tony awards and a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.
Ramps On The Moon is a consortium of seven major theatre companies committed to putting Deaf and disabled artists and audiences at the centre of their work; to accelerate positive change, explore opportunities and stimulate awareness of disability issues within arts and culture. The project is supported by public funding through the Arts Council’s Strategic Touring programme – the largest award of its kind. The consortium venues are New Wolsey Theatre, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Nottingham Playhouse, Sheffield Theatres, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Graeae Theatre Company.
After playing the Narrator in the original West End production in 1979, Peter Straker returns to the iconic rock opera as the Acid Queen. Peter Straker is known across TV, theatre and music, starting his career as Hud in the original London production of Hair and notably working with Freddie Mercury on two solo albums. His hit solo show Peter Straker Sings Brel played the Famous Spiegeltent at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Garry Robson takes on the controversial role of Uncle Ernie. One of the most respected names in disability arts with more than thirty years in the industry, Garry Robson is an actor, writer, director, one half of the singing duo Blind Gurl and the Cripz, and is currently Artistic Director at Birds of Paradise. Tommy’s mother, Mrs Walker, will be played by Magic Hands presenter Donna Mullings, and Max Runham (A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer) takes on the role of Captain Walker. The role of Tommy is taken by William Grint, whose most recent role was as Imogen’s long-lost brother Arviragus in the Globe’s Cymbeline. They’re joined by Amy Trigg as Sally Simpson, Lukus Alexander as Cousin Kevin, Alim Jayda as the Lover, and an ensemble of fourteen performers and musicians.