“Tommy” – Ramps on the Moon, New Wolsey Theatre – 04/04/17
Photo Credit: Mike Kwasniak
“Tommy”, is a Rock Musical by The Who. In this version, the storyline follows that of the film with Tommy’s father Capt. Walker being killed by his mother’s then lover, Frank who becomes Tommy’s stepfather and it is Tommy’s dead father Capt. Walker who takes on the role of guide as opposed to an older Tommy as seen in some other stage productions.
Having said all that it actually makes little difference to the production itself, which takes us from the war in 1940 where his father is missing presumed dead and then his return to the family home where Tommy witnesses his father’s death and being told by his Mother and Frank that he didn’t see it or hear it and must never speak of it. As a result of this Tommy goes into a catatonic state and is known as the deaf, dumb and blind kid.
William Grint as Tommy was very endearing as the pained and repressed Tommy and gave great depth to the character. His singing was undertaken by Matthew Jacobs-Morgan and Julian Capolei who both sang extremely well throughout the show whether as Tommy or any of the many other characters they played.
Donna Mullings as Tommy’s mother Nora, gave us a very emotional performance – she has a hugely expressive face and signed and acted the part very well, with Shekinah McFarlane who sang for her – and who has a magnificent voice – you really understood the many layers of the character. Max Runham as Tommy’s father Captain Walker had a great stage presence and gave a real calming effect amongst all the rock music and flashing lights.
Alim Jayda as Frank, Tommy’s Stepfather was also very polished and delivered a very accomplished performance. Lukas Alexander was very strong as the bully Cousin Kevin and Garry Robson embodied the sleaziness of Uncle Ernie completely and I loved his performance in the Tommy’s Holiday Camp number too. Peter Straker as the Acid Queen sang his soul out and I did like this interpretation very much, as well as Amy Trigg as Sally Simpson who delivered just the right amount of naivety at the beginning through to her anger and disenchantment when Tommy tells her to be less like him and to be herself.
In fact, the whole cast were an impressive mixture of able and disable bodied actors and dancers, with many of the performers also playing musical instruments – I wish we could have seen more of them playing as it added another dimension to the show. They all seem to wiz through numerous costume changes and gave full energy to the larger musical numbers. I have to say as a dancer, I love choreography which interprets feelings and emotions and takes the story further along and in this show the interaction of sign language within the choreography was fabulous.
I personally also liked the lyrics being shown throughout as often I find with modern musicals the storyline is lost under over amplified musicians and poor diction. While I didn’t watch the screen all the way through, I could check I had understood what was being said from time to time if needed.
The set was used to interpret the many locations perfectly with a great LED lighted floor, many projections and the simple use, mostly of chairs, to give some sense of location. I particularly liked the way the chairs were used to improvise a table top football game in the youth club – simple yet very effective.
Of course, the highlight of the show for most of the audience was the End of Act One with the famous number ‘Pinball Wizard’. With the lit up chairs and all the extra effects, we were not disappointed.
Overall, if I had to sum up this production in 4 words they would be: captivating, explosive, mesmerising and emotional. This was a true theatrical experience which satisfied on so many levels.
The Tommy tour is visiting many theatres around the UK so do try and catch it now at the New Wolsey Theatre if you can.
The LadyKillersSeptember 7, 2017 – September 30, 2017The New Wolsey TheatreThe New Wolsey Theatre, The Salisbury Playhouse and The Queens Theatre Hornchurch bring this classic Ealing comedy on tour to the region. Tickets: 01473 295900/www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
All Shook Up, Chelmsford Operatic SocietySeptember 26, 2017 – September 30, 2017Civic Theatre, ChelmsfordTickets from 01245 606505 www.chelmsford.gov.uk/theatres
Come Back to the Five And Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean - Blackmore PlayersSeptember 28, 2017 – September 30, 2017Blackmore Village HallEvening Performances on Thursday & Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 7:30pm. Tickets from www.blackmoreplayers.co.uk T:01277 200305
Reason's to be CheerfulOctober 3, 2017 – October 7, 2017The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswichcelebrating the infectious music of Ian Drury and the Blockheads; a punk rock musical and gritty coming of age tale. Tickets: 01473 295900/www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
Little Shop of Horrors - Co2October 4, 2017 – October 14, 2017Mercury Theatre, Colchester
Oxy & The MoronsOctober 12, 2017 – October 21, 2017The New Wolsey Theatre, IpswichA brank new punk musical with a machine gun playlist of original songs, co-written with Mike Peters (The Alarm), Paul Sirett (Mods & Rox) and Steve Allan Jones. Tickets: 01473 295900/www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
9 to 5 - Witham Operatic SocietyOctober 23, 2017 – October 28, 2017Witham Public Hall, Collingwood Rd, Withamtickets from www.waos.org/box-office
Rules for LivingOctober 31, 2017 – November 4, 2017The New Wolsey Theatre, IpswichEveryone creates their own rules for living but what happens when an extended family gathers for a traditional Christmas dinner and each of them rigidly follows those rules? Tickets: 01473 295900/www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
House of Dracula - Chelmsford Theatre WorkshopOctober 31, 2017 – November 4, 2017Nightly at 7:45pm tickets from 01245 606505
Wait Until DarkNovember 6, 2017 – November 11, 2017The New Wolsey Theatre, IpswichOriginal Theatre presents the Classic, edge of your seat thriller - Wait until Dark. Tickets: 01473 295900/www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
Gypsy - LTCNovember 8, 2017 – November 11, 2017Palace Theatren430 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, SS0 9LA, England
Soho Cinders - SpringersNovember 14, 2017 – November 18, 2017Cramphorn TheatrenFairfield Road, Chelmsford, CM1, England
Singing in the Rain - SODSNovember 22, 2017 – November 25, 2017Palace Theatren430 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, SS0 9LA, England
Red Riding Hood - The Rock and Roll PantoNovember 23, 2017 – January 27, 2018The New Wolsey Theatre, IpswichAnother Brand new Rock and Roll Panto! Tickets: 01473 295900/www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
Snow White and the Seven DwarfsNovember 25, 2017 – January 14, 2018Mercury Theatre, Colchestertickets: www.mercurytheatre.co.uk
Beauty and the Beast - Blackmore PlayersJanuary 18, 2018 – January 20, 2018Blackmore Village Hall