Pete Townshend's Quadrophenia to Become U.K. Stage Production

By Mark Shenton
February 13, 2009

The Who's legendary 1973 studio album "Quadrophenia," which subsequently provided the basis for a 1979 feature film of the same name, will be brought to the British stage for the first time.

The production directed by Tom Critchley, who has also adapted it for the stage with Jeff Young and John O'Hara will embark on a six-month UK tour, commencing in Plymouth in May and continuing to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bath, Manchester, Sunderland, Cambridge, Cheltenham, Leeds, Nottingham, Aberdeen, Liverpool, Brighton, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Oxford, Wimbledon, Southampton and Reading.

Set in London and Brighton at the height of the Mod era, Quadrophenia is told through the eyes of Jimmy, a hedonistic-style conscious teenager searching for a place to belong and a girl to love. Misunderstood by his parents and stuck in a dead-end job, he sets off on a trip to Brighton that will change his life forever. This coming-of-age story is brought to life in a production set against the colorful backdrop of the world of sixties Britain. According to press materials, "Quadrophenia documents a culturally significant moment in Britain, the influences of which are still seen today in music and fashion. The story takes a snapshot of one of the most interesting and energising times for pop culture in Britain. Pete Townshend's score captures the excitement of a nation on the brink of change."

The 1973 album was named by both Rolling Stone magazine and VH1 as one of the 100 greatest albums of all time. The film, directed by Frank Roddam, starred Sting, Phil Daniels, Leslie Ash, Toyah Wilcox and a young Ray Winstone. Townshend's score for The Who's Tommy was previously brought to the Broadway stage in 1993, when Des McAnuff directed it at the St. James Theatre. It subsequently played at the West End's Shaftesbury Theatre in 1996.

This stage version of Quadrophenia is produced by Bill Schultz, Ina Meibach and the Theatre Royal, Plymouth in association with Industrial Language Ltd.

Director and co-adaptor Tom Critchley has worked in theatre since 1980, variously as stage crew, stage manager, performer, director and producer, at the Crucible Theatre, Churchill Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse, Bristol Old Vic and with Kneehigh Theatre, The Desperate Men and Public Parts. Directing credits includes Family Values and Dollsheart, also by Jeff Young. He established a producing company Industrial Language in 2000 to continue acting as a creative producer on other Townshend music theatre projects including Quadrophenia.

John O'Hara, musical supervisor, arranger and co-adaptor, is a graduate of The Royal Northern College of Music, who has performed with The Halle, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Rambert Dance Company. He was the resident composer/musical director at the Bristol Old Vic for over a decade. He has also worked at the National Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith, Leicester Haymarket and The Royal Exchange. He plays piano and accordion in the band Jethro Tull and orchestrates and conducts Ian Anderson's solo concerts.

Jeff Young, writer, has scripted over 20 plays, radio essays and drama documentaries for Resonance FM, BBC Radio 3 and 4, for whom he has collaborated with the likes of Simon Armitage and Skyray. He previously worked with Pete Townshend on the BBC Radio 3 adaptation of "Lifehouse." He has written 30 stage plays and music theatre pieces for Liverpool Everyman, Unity, Northern Stage, Kneehigh, Bristol Old Vic and many other theatres.

Producer Ina Miebach's Broadway producing credits include The Little Dog Laughed, Topdog/Underdog, Steel Magnolias and The Three Musketeers. In an earlier life as an entertainment attorney, her clients included The Who, U2, Queen, Monty Python,Labelle, Billy Joel and Patti Smith. She is on the Board of New York Stage and Film.

The creative team for the show also includes Sophie Khan (set design), Carl Perry (costume design), Frances Newman (choreography), Ace McCarron (lighting), Kevin McCurdy (fight direction), Jason Barnes (sound design), Elliott Ware (musical director), and Bill Schultz (creative consultant).

The full tour list for the production follows:
Plymouth Theatre Royal, May 11-16, box office 01752 267222, www.theatreroyal.com
Birmingham Hppodrome, May 18-23, box office 0870 730 1234, www.birminghamhippodrome.com
Ediburgh Festival Theatre, May 25-30, box office 0131 529 6000, www.eft.co.uk
Glasgow Kings Theatre, June 1-6, box office 0870 060 6647, www.theambassadors.com
Bath Theatre Royal, June 8-13, box office 01225 448844, www.theatreroyal.org.uk
Manchester Opera House, June 15-20, box office 0844 847 2295, www.palaceandoperahouse.org.uk
Sunderland Empire, July 6-11, box office 0844 847 24 99, www.sunderlandempire.org.uk
Cambridge Arts Theatre, July 20-25, box office 01223 503333, www.cambridgeartstheatre.com
Cheltenham Everyman, July 27-Aug. 1, box office 01242 572573, www.everymantheatre.org.uk
Leeds Grand, Aug. 3-8, box office 0844 848 2706, www.leedsgrandtheatre.co.uk
Nottingham Concert Hall, Aug. 10-15, box office 0115 9895555, www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk
Aberdeen His Majesty's, Aug. 17-22, box office 01224 641122, www.hmtaberdeen.com
Liverpool Empire, Aug. 24-29, box office 0844 847 2525, www.liverpoolempire.org.uk
Brighton Theatre Royal, Aug. 31-Sept. 5, box office 08700 606 650, www.theambassadors.com
Wolverhampton Grand, Sept. 21-26, box office 01902 42 92 12, www.grandtheatre.info
Coventry Belgrade, Sept. 28-Oct. 3, box office 024 7655 3055, www.belgarde.co.uk
Oxford Playhouse, Oct. 5-10, box office 01865 305305, www.oxfordplayhouse.com
Wimbledon Theatre, Oct. 19-24, box office 0870 060 6646, www.ambassadortickets.com/wimbledon
Southampton Mayflower, Oct 26-31, box office 02380 711811, www.mayflower.org.uk
Reading Hexagon, Nov. 2-7, box office 0118 960 6060, www.readingarts.com/thehexagon