The Who’s groundbreaking rock musical Tommy is returning to Broadway, 26 years after the show’s run ended, with original director Des McAnuff leading the new production.
Originally released in 1969, The Who’s classic album about a deaf, dumb and blind pinball wizard will be reimagined for present day and heading to Broadway in 2021, announced the show’s producers, Hal Luftig and Patrick Catullo.
“Our new production of Tommy will be a reinvention aimed directly at today,” said McAnuff in a press statement. “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.”
McAnuff described the original Tommy character “the anti-hero ground zero” and one 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.”
The musical adaptation of the Who’s 1969 rock opera was first developed by Pete Townshend and La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director McAnuff, with the show opening at the playhouse in the summer of 1992. The show then debuted on Broadway on 22 April 1993 and went on to win five Tony Awards before closing two years later, following 889 performances. But Tommy hit the screen before the Broadway stage, in the 1975 campy film adaptation starring Roger Daltrey, Ann-Margret, Elton John, Tina Turner and Eric Clapton.
“My parents took me to see Des’ original Broadway production for my 16th birthday,” said producer Catullo. “It completely blew my mind and is the singular reason I pursued a career in theater. The story is timeless and it’s one of the best scores ever written. I am beyond excited to present Tommy not only for its existing fans, but to introduce it to a new audience as well.”
Tommy has existed in many incarnations over the years. The Seattle Opera produced a version of it in 1971, while the London Symphony Orchestra staged it with special guests the following year.
Most recently, Roger Daltrey embarked on an orchestral tour of the album in 2018 – joined by some of the finest symphony orchestras in the nation – and released a live version of his performances on Tommy Orchestral, back in June.
“There’s something about the night this was captured on this record, it had an energy and a spirit about it – truly the spirit of 1969,” Daltrey previously told uDiscover Music this past July.
While no official premiere date has been announced, a new official website is now live, with a sign-up for updates.