‘The Who’s Tommy’ Will Return to Broadway This Spring

This post was originally published on NY Times - Theater

Written by: Michael Paulson

An acclaimed revival of the musical plans to open in March at the Nederlander Theater. “Tommy” is returning to Broadway. A Chicago-born revival of the classic rock opera, which got strong reviews and sold well at Goodman Theater over the summer, will open at the Nederlander Theater in March.

Set in and around London over a number of years starting during World War II, the show is about a boy who stops communicating after several early traumas, embraces and excels at pinball, and begins to have messianic delusions. The story is considered an expression of generational anger.

The musical, whose full title is “The Who’s Tommy,” began as a concept album in 1969, and the original stage production opened on Broadway in 1993. It won five Tony Awards, including for its score by Pete Townshend of the Who. Townshend not only wrote the music and lyrics, but is also credited with writing the book with Des McAnuff, who directed the original and is now directing the revival.

Writing in The Chicago Tribune, the critic Chris Jones called the revival “truly a ready-for-prime-time stunner” and said “Broadway has nothing else like this wizardry going on.”

The revival’s lead producers are Stephen Gabriel and Ira Pittelman. Gabriel said he had loved the show since his high school band played the songs at a school dance, and jumped at producing the project when McAnuff said he wanted to revisit the material.

“What we saw in Chicago reaffirmed my original thought that the piece was ahead of its time,” Gabriel said. “I always knew the music would resonate again, but I think the story, with its themes of trauma and bullying, goes toward conversations we have today — that’s discussed more freely and thoughtfully now, and when the show presents those themes, the audience leans in.”

The revival is scheduled to begin previews March 8 and to open March 28; casting has not yet been announced. The show is being capitalized for up to $17 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission; Gabriel said he expected the actual budget to be closer to $15.5 million.

“Tommy” is at least the fifth musical revival announced for this season, joining “Merrily We Roll Along,” “Spamalot,” “The Wiz” and “Cabaret.”

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