There’s no twist here, The Who’s Tommy is making an amazing journey back to Broadway. The musical, based on The Who’s iconic 1969 concept record and subsequent 1975 film adaptation, is set to be revived for the 2021 season.
The songs and story of Tommy have taken on numerous forms over the years. A stage production put on by the Seattle Opera opened in 1971, and The Who’s Pete Townshend and director Des McAnuff began working on a musical adaptation in 1991. That version premiered in San Diego a year later, and opened on Broadway in 1993. It won five Tony Awards, including Best Original Score and Best Direction of a Musical, as well as a Grammy.
McAnuff will actually return to helm the revival. Speaking about returning to The Who’s Tommy, the two-time Tony winner promised a modern spin on the tale:
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“Our new production of Tommy will be a reinvention aimed directly at today. Tommy combines myth and spectacle in a way that truly soars. The key question with any musical is ‘Does the story sing?’ and this one most certainly does. Tommy is the anti-hero ground zero. He is the boy who not only rejects adulthood like Holden Caulfield in The Catcher In The Rye, but existence itself. He becomes lost in the universe as he stares endlessly and obsessively into the mirror at his own image. This gives our story a powerful resonance today as it seems like the whole world is staring into the black mirror. The story of Tommy exists all too comfortably in the 21st century. In fact, time may finally have caught up to Tommy Walker.”
Tommy centers on the titular character, a “deaf, dumb, and blind boy” who’s baffling skills at pinball lead to him becoming a mesonic figure. Enduring songs like “Pinball Wizard” and “I’m Free” are all part of the score.
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The Who, meanwhile, have a new album entitled simply Who coming on December 6th. They recently released the single “All This Music Must Fade”, which followed “Ball & Chain”. Their “Movin on Tour” will continue next year, and you can get tickets to all their upcoming gigs here.
Watch a selection of highlights from the original 1993 production of The Who’s Tommy below.