The Who’s Tommy is coming back to Broadway. Producers Hal Luftig and Patrick Catullo are reviving the band’s classic rock stage musical for the 2021 season. Two-time Tony Award-winner Des McAnuff, who directed the original Broadway production in 1993, is once again directing.
“Our new production of Tommy will be a reinvention aimed directly at today,” McAnuff says. “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.”
2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Who’s original concept album Tommy, which tells the story of a young boy traumatized into deafness and blindness whose unexpected gift for pinball puts him on the path towards becoming the leader of a messianic movement. In 1971, the Seattle Opera produced a staged production of Tommy, and in 1975, a film version was made. Pete Townshend met Des McAnuff and began working on a stage musical of Tommy in 1991. After premiering in San Diego in 1992, The Who’s Tommy opened on Broadway a year later and went on to win a Grammy and five Tony Awards, including Best Original Score and Best Direction Of A Musical.
“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.”