“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.