Returning to the West End as a special one-time treat is The Who’s musical, directed by the proficient Raz Shaw.
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Tommy is back and looks set to deliver with a phenomenal cast - we know, because we spoke to them. Talking to the guys, what comes across is their enthusiasm for the show, and for each other’s abilities. With an underlying dark, gritty nature, the actors’ chemistry is fundamental, especially in a one-chance event. There is no luxury set, thus pressure is laid solely on the cast.
Which is why the calmness and quiet confidence of the boys is so surprising. Although it shouldn’t be a shock, what with talent delivered by David Hunter, Glenn Carter, Daniel Boys (pictured above. left, obvs - that's Hannah Jane Fox beside him) and Joe McElderry in the leading roles. Tommy is a rock musical about a boy who becomes deaf, dumb and blind after the witness of a murder. He then becomes a kind of lord of the pinball machine. The show is also directed towards the aid of young people searching for a step in to the industry and looks to raise cash for the Pure Theatre Development Fund.
It appears that Tommy is providing the creative space the guys need to experiment with their abilities. David, who tends to be seen as ‘the boy next door’, thinks the part as sadistic cousin Kevin "is brilliant…and utterly bizarre, and this adds to the challenge of making it accessible". A rock musical suits him to the ground having been the former front man of Reemer. For the role, method acting seemed inappropriate as it would require stubbing cigarettes out on people, and David is a lovely guy. Instead he has approached it with inspiration from his school days where he witnessed bullying. And why should people come to view Tommy? "Obviously because I’m in it" he says with a cheeky grin. Sold.
Likewise, Glenn examines how Tommy marks the space for performance evolution in the vile role of uncle Ernie. To make it realistic, he strives to unearth his character’s sleazy, nasty nature with a theatrical edge. Reflecting on past experiences, Glenn defines how his dream musical role would resemble his part in Moon Landing, which explored the eventual nervous breakdown of the astronaughts who walked on the moon. In all instances the challenge of morphing into new eclectic roles drives him, and uncle Ernie certainly hits the mark. His profound stance on theatre is truly inspiring, and another reason you should have already hit the ticket link.
Yet more talent comes from Daniel Boys’ role as Tommy’s father. In terms of preparation for another straight role (after his dream part as Tony in West Side Story) he giggles, and reassures "I am an actor, so I just act." Daniel is also looking forward to another leading role in a comedy short called Fallout, co-starring Andrew Hayden-Smith, which makes for yet more sophisticated acting chemistry. Filming starts in Holland in a few weeks time. It has an interesting synopsis; a gay couple who have recently split on bad terms, find themselves in a fallout shelter. It deals with bad break-ups in a comedic way apparently, but what we are really looking forward to is seeing how he ends up in his boxers in one scene…Rest assured, he will be buffing up for the scene (once he has consumed the muffin he currently clutches).
And finally, our columnist Joe McElderry will be playing the role of Tommy. This is the first time he’s been part of somebody else’s production, which is a very new experience. Usually it is him and his band, but in this instance there is a driving force posed as a chorus that provides a build up and a lift. Playing a deaf, dumb and blind kid is imaginably tricky. But the role is left in very capable hands. Joe is currently anticipating his track release Rescue Us (November 19), his next article in GT, and a (well-deserved) Christmas break skiing with his family. Living with an optimistic mind-set, Joe is happy to leave the future unplanned, except to say he aspires to tour in 2013. About the show, he thinks it will be a very different interpretation to what people have seen before. "I’m really nervous", he admits with an angelic look, "but I guess I’ll just have to treat it like every other thing I’ve done before…and keep the steel!"
Tommy is on 12 November and you can get tickets here.
Words: Jack Pearson