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The Who’s Tommy Musical Comes to Leeds With Brand New Music

· Joseph Sheerin · Culture

With two new songs by Pete Townshend, The Who’s Tommy is headed to Leeds.

The Who's Tommy

A ground-breaking production of iconic rock’n’roll opera, The Who’s Tommy, is at West Yorkshire Playhouse this May.

The Who’s Tommy is going back on the road for a very special production by New Wolsey Theatre and Ramps on the Moon. The show comes to West Yorkshire Playhouse from Thursday 4th to Saturday 13th May 2017 and will feature a cast of deaf, disabled and non-disabled actors, as part of Ramps on the Moon’s ongoing commitment to make theatre more inclusive to all.

Tommy is a landmark piece of work, originally conceived by The Who guitarist Pete Townsend for their fourth album in 1969. Its concept was fully realised both on stage and the big screen, as one of the first major rock operas. Since its original theatre production in 1979, various productions have gone on to earn Tommy accolades including Tony and Grammy awards.

The Who's Tommy

Credit: Mike Kwasniak

Tommy is a young boy who witnesses the murder of his father by his mother’s lover, and struggling to come to terms with everything he’s gone through, he switches off from the outside world, refusing to communicate at all. Growing up in post-World War II England, his actions make him an outcast – he suffers abuse from relatives and the local community, but as he gets older his life changes and he becomes a ‘Pinball Wizard’.

On hearing of this special project, which will tour around the UK, Townshend wanted to put his own unique spin on the show, so he wrote two new songs exclusively for it. He’s created a brand new version of ‘Amazing Journey’, which will open the musical, before a torch song re-working of ‘Acid Queen’ in Act Two.

“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,” Townshend gushed. “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

Credit: Mike Kwasniak

The production will consist of 22 actors and musicians. It also includes creative use of audio description, captioning and British Sign Language interpretation to make it as accessible as possible for everyone. And while the cast is a little different than usual, The Who’s Tommy will feature some of the band’s most iconic music, from ‘Pinball Wizard’ to ‘I’m Free’, ‘Sparks’ and ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’.

The second touring production from Ramps on the Moon will continue their ground-breaking work and breathe new life into a rock’n’roll classic – don’t miss it.

The Who’s Tommy is at West Yorkshire Playhouse from Thursday 4th to Saturday 13th May 2017.

Feature image copyright Mike Kwasniak.