The Victorian Opera will present Pete Townshend and The Who’s classic rock opera ‘Tommy’ in August in Melbourne.
Townshend has personally approved the new Australian production of his 1969 masterpiece. The term ‘rock opera’ was coined for ‘Tommy’ by The Who’s manager Kit Lambert.
‘Tommy’ was unveiled on 17 May 1969. The Who had planned to perform the rock opera as a complete piece in concert. The media was given a preview on 1 May 1969 at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. It then became the centrepiece of The Who live show. However in 1970, Pete Townshend announced the June 1970 shows at the Metropolitan Opera House in Manhattan would be the last. It wasn’t.
The first adaptation of ‘Tommy’ was performed by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal in 1970. The first stage production of ‘Tommy’ was by the Seattle Opera in 1971. That production had Bette Midler as the Acid Queen.
In December 1972 entrepreneur Lou Reizner produced the concert version of ‘Tommy’ featuring The Who with the London Symphony Orchestra. The concerts featured Rod Stewart as The Local Lad, Steve Winwood as The Father, Ringo Starr as Uncle Ernie and Merry Clayton as The Acid Queen.
Australia’s first production was performed on 31 March and 1 April 1973 in Melbourne at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Daryl Braithwaite played Tommy. The cast featured Billy Thorpe as the Pinball Wizard, Doug Parkinson, Ross Wilson, Broderick Smith, Linda George, Wendy Saddington, Jim Keays, Bobby Bright and Molly Meldrum (as Uncle Ernie).
In 1975 the Ken Russell directed, Robert Stigwood produced movie version of ‘Tommy’ was released with Oliver Reed, Ann-Margaret, Elton John, Jack Nicholson, Tina Turner and Eric Clapton.
The Victorian Opera Australian cast includes Mat Verevis (A Little Night Music, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Nine Network’s The Voice) as Narrator / Tommy. As Captain Walker, Matt Hetherington (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Gypsy), Amy Lehpamer (School of Rock, The Sound of Music) as Mrs. Walker, Paul Capsis as the Acid Queen, Kanen Breen (Black Rider, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as Uncle Ernie and Vincent Hooper (The Rocky Horror Show) as Cousin Kevin.
The ensemble cast includes Zoe Coppinger, Mark Doggett, Darcey Eagle, Joshua Gordon, Matt Hamilton, David Hammond, Savannah Lind, Anna Mallows, Joe Meldrum, Nicole Melloy, Adam Noviello, John O’Hara, Matthew Predny, Dean Schulz, Darren Tyler, Stephanie Wall, Jun Woodfield, Gary Yong, and Rose Shannon Duhigg as Sally Simpson.
Hamilton Binnie Garcia and Sebastian Sero share the role of four-year-old Tommy, while Elijah Slavinskis and Will Wiseman alternate as ten-year-old Tommy.
Roger Hodgman (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) is the director, alongside musical director Jack Earle (Enchanté: The Songs of Tina Arena).
The creative team is Dana Jolly (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), set designer Christina Smith (The Boy from Oz), costume designer Isaac Lummis (Ragtime), lighting designer Matt Scott (Anything Goes), sound designer Peter Grubb (Matilda the Musical), and video designer Jamie Clennett (Gristle).
Tickets are on sale from 10am on Thursday 3 June and start at $39. Bookings available via
UPDATE POSTPONED UNTIL 2022
The Who’s Tommy
Palais Theatre, St Kilda
Friday 13 August, 7.30 pm
Saturday 14 August, 7.30 pm
Tuesday 17 August, 7.30 pm
Wednesday 18 August, 1.00 pm & 7.30 pm
Thursday 19 August, 7.30 pm
Friday 20 August, 7.30 pm
Saturday 21 August, 1.00 pm
Running time is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, plus one interval
Suitable for mature audiences, ages 15+
Tickets: $39 – $159
Bookings via victorianopera.com.au
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