Pete Townshend and Tony Award-winner Des McAnuff will bring The Who’s Tommy back to Broadway in 2021. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of The Who’s Tommy, which tells the story of a young boy traumatized into deafness and blindness, yet has an unexpected gift for pinball that puts him on the path towards becoming the leader of a messianic movement.
Inspired by the groundbreaking 1969 LP and the 1975 film adaptation, the staged musical version of The Who’s Tommy first appeared in the summer of 1992 at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse. It later opened on Broadway in 1993, winning a Grammy and five Tony Awards, including Best Original Score and Best Direction of a Musical.
With McAnuff and Townshend at the helm, the show won five Tonys that year. Now, with a return to the stage, McAnuff says it is more relevant that ever.
“Our new production of Tommy will be a reinvention aimed directly at today,” he said of the new production, for which he’ll act as director. “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.”
“In every producer’s career a show comes along that feels like a perfect fit,” says producer Hal Luftig. “To have Des and Pete look at Tommy again is extremely exciting and feels just right. I’m thrilled to bring Tommy back home to Broadway where it belongs!” Producer Patrick Catullo adds, “My parents took me to see Des’ original Broadway production for my 16th birthday. 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 The Who’s Tommy not only for its existing fans, but to introduce it to a new audience as well.”