Ramps on the Moon returns with a controversial new production of The Who’s ‘Tommy’

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‘Tommy’ opens at New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich. Peter Straker in rehearsal. Photo © Patrick Baldwin

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.

The show is produced by the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, who leads the Ramps on the Moon consortium, and directed by artistic director of Theatre Royal Stratford East, Kerry Michael.

38 years after playing the Narrator in the original West End production of Tommy in 1979, Peter Straker returns to the iconic rock opera as the Acid Queen. Peter Straker is known across TV, theatre and music, starting his career as Hud in the original London production of Hair and notably working with Freddie Mercury on two solo albums. His hit solo show Peter Straker Sings Brel played the Famous Spiegeltent at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Garry Robson takes on the controversial role of Uncle Ernie. One of the most respected names in disability arts with more than thirty years in the industry, Garry Robson is an actor, writer, director, one half of the singing duo Blind Gurl and the Cripz, and is currently Artistic Director at Birds of Paradise Theatre.

Photo of Garry Robson and Natasha Julien in rehearsal

‘Tommy’ opens at New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich. Garry Robson and Natasha Julien rehearse. Photo © Patrick Baldwin

Tommy’s mother, Mrs Walker, will be played by Magic Hands presenter Donna Mullings, and Max Runham (A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer) takes on the role of Captain Walker.

The role of Tommy is taken by William Grint, whose most recent role was as Imogen’s long-lost brother Arviragus in the Globe’s Cymbeline. They’re joined by Amy Trigg as Sally Simpson, Lukus Alexander as Cousin Kevin, Alim Jayda as the Lover, and an ensemble of fourteen performers and musicians.

The Who’s Tommy is an iconic rock opera which has entertained and intrigued audiences for more than 40 years. The original concept album composed by Pete Townshend was the fourth album released by the band in 1969.

The rock opera was then resurrected through various media including an orchestral version by Lou Reizner in 1972, a film in 1975 with a star studded cast including the likes of Tina Turner, Elton John and the band members themselves, before coming to the stage at the Queen’s Theatre in 1979. The Broadway revival in 1992 won various awards including five Tony awards and a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.

Director Kerry Michael is artistic director of Theatre Royal Stratford East. His recent credits include Harder They Come, which transferred to the Barbican, national tour, West End, North America and Canada. He said:

“For Tommy, we have gone back to the concept album for our inspiration and mounting a new production of this iconic rock musical with such a big and diverse cast so exciting – vibrate, surprising full of amazing songs.”

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.

This production will have embedded creative use of Audio Description, Captioning and British Sign Language in all performances.

UK Tour from 30th March to 1st July opening at New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich from 30 March – 15 April before moving on to Nottingham Playhouse 19-29 April; West Yorkshire Playhouse 4-13 May; Birmingham Repertory Theatre 17-27 May; Theatre Royal, Stratford East 7-17 June and The Crucible, Sheffield 22 June-1 July.
@RampsOTM | #TommyTour | tommthemusical.co.uk
Suitable for ages 14+