October 21, 2020

1992-01-19 – Daily Press

1992 01 19 Daily_Press_Sun__Jan_19__1992_

helps adapt

By Dory! H. Miller
Los Angeles Daily News

Pete Townshend is working

with the La Jolla Playhouse on a
stage adaptation of the Who’s leg-
endary 1969 album “Tommy.”

Although the project is just now
being announced as part of the the-
" ater’s upcoming season, Town-
shend and Des McAnuff, the La
Jolla artistic director, have been
working on it for several months.
McAnuff will direct the piece dur-
ing its July lZ-through-Aug. 16 pre-

“‘Tommy’ is like an icon —
almost a symbol of pop culture,”
McAnuff said.

“It’s a show that’s been waiting
to be staged,” he added.

For years, the story came alive
only in people’s minds as they lis-
tened to the album or the Who in
concert. Then, in 1975, Ken Rus-
sell directed a movie version, in
which Townshend participated.

The album also was adapted as
a ballet and as a stage musical that
played on London’s West End.

Townshend, who wrote the
album’s music and lyrics, didn’t
creatively participate in the 1978
West End musical. The La Jolla
project marks the first time he has
worked on a stage adaptation.

Townshend is taking a new look
at “Tommy" because, “I have space,
time and energy,” he said through
a spokeswoman. “I was greatly
encouraged by the warm response
to ‘Tommy’ as a major chunk of the
Who’s anniversary material on
their ’89 tour of the US.”

A friend of McAnuff knew that
Townshend wanted to work on a
stage version and brought the two
artists together.

Townshend decided to work
with the theater because it has “a
history of innovation and a good
musical backbone,” he said in a
press release.

The musician, who lives in Lon-
don, will be in residence at the the-
ater this summer, participating in
rehearsals. ~