Photo by Richard Davenport

The Who’s Pete Townshend has penned two new songs exclusively for the touring production of Tommy which plays West Yorkshire Playhouse in May.

He’s reworked the iconic Amazing Journey to open the show, and after her iconic Act One song the Acid Queen – played by original cast member Peter Straker – will make a return in Act Two with a brand 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.

In this version of groundbreaking rock opera the 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 but the adolescent Tommy’s life begins to change when he finds salvation in becoming a pinball wizard.

Tommy started life as the band’s fourth album in 1969 and the classic film version six years later featured a star studded cast including Tina Turner, Elton John and the band members themselves, before making its way to the stage at the Queen’s Theatre in 1979. The Broadway revival of Tommy n 1992 won various awards including five Tony awards and a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.

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.”

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.

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 from 4 to 13 May 2017. There will be a Relaxed performance on 11 May 1.30pm. Suitable for ages 14+. Find more on their website, or on Twitter and via the hashtag #TommyTour.
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