Greenwich Theatre, London – until 23 August 2015
It’s been 19 years since we last saw The Who’s Tommy in London. Coming from Portsmouth where they filmed the iconic pinball scenes in the Kings Theatre in Southsea and a lover of the music I was keen to see this new production at the Greenwich Theatre. As you see below the production shots by Claire Bilyard of Scarab Pictures had us salivating before it went on stage so did it live up to the expectation?
We were greeted by an open stage and from the very first guitar chord we know we are in for a treat! Starting in wartime the meeting and union of Tommy’s mother (Miranda Wilford) and father (James Sinclair) is shown. Very cleverly devised staging with minimal use of set, props and costumes simply using the actors to create the images for us, and is. the brainchild of Michael Strassen Director and staging. Wilford and Sinclair are equally matched and worked well as a couple showing their love and support for one another and their son Tommy (Ashley Birchall) whom we learn is traumatised by their actions. Birchall as Tommy could warrant a whole review to himself so mesmerising and utterly captivating was his portrayal. The “Pinball Wizard” scene is stunning.
However I don’t want to lose your attention but safe to say he was an outstanding choice, the voice, the characterisation and the dancing Birchall has it all in abundance! Which brings me nicely to the choreography by Mark Smith which is innovative, interesting to watch and perfectly executed by the cast.
John Barr plays Uncle Ernie as loathsomely vile. At his introduction the audience chuckle with his comic delivery, quickly changing when his highly disturbing character shows through. Brilliantly portrayed, as is Giovanni Spano’s Cousin Kevin. Spano as the bully soon changes his tune when he sees that there is a lucrative bandwagon to jump on. Again you really dislike this role, which is a credit to Spano and his acting ability, he too makes the choreography look effortless and has a lovely voice. Carly Burns is Acid queen and effuses feistiness throughout her scenes. The whole young cast are excellent and further mention should go to Carrie Sutton, Danny Becker, Alice Mogg, and Scott Sutcliffe.
Off course I can’t leave this review without mentioning the superb band comprising of Kevin Oliver Jones, Lauren Storer, Paolo Minervini, Kamil Bartnik. These really were a delight and when the cast left the stage, the band gave us a rendition of Pinball Wizard which kept us on our feet. Guitarist Jones even teased us with the iconic guitar smash up, thankfully the guitar remains unscathed but did give an authentic nod to “The Who”.
Returning to my original question – Did this show live up to my high expectation? In my opinion yes it did! If you want to have a “see me, feel me, free me” experience then go and see this show on at the Greenwich theatre until 23rd August.