Stage Door News

New York: Former Stratford Festival A.D. Des McAnuff will direct “The Who’s Tommy” on Broadway in 2021

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A new production of The Who's Tommy will open on Broadway in 2021. Attached to direct is Tony winner Des McAnuff, who helmed the show's Broadway premiere in 1993.  

The staging aims to be "a reinvention aimed directly at today," McAnuff said. "[Tommy] becomes lost in the universe as he stares endlessly and obsessively into the mirror at his own image. This gives our story a powerful resonance today as it seems like the whole world is staring into the black mirror. The story of Tommy exists all too comfortably in the 21st century."

The announcement arrives on the heels of the 50th anniversary of The Who's 1969 rock concept album, which brought the band to a variety of performance venues before a 1971 stage adaptation, a 1975 movie, and a 1992 presentation at La Jolla Playhouse (which subsequently played Broadway).

La Jolla Playhouse Director Emeritus McAnuff recently brought Tommy back to one of its original stomping grounds, presenting a benefit concert with original Broadway cast members (including Michael Cerveris and Alice Ripley) at the West Coast venue. (Previously, McAnuff directed a revival of the musical at the Stratford Festival, Canada, in 2013.)

Tommy follows a “deaf, dumb, and blind” boy who overcomes his disabilities with the help of ace pinball skills. The Who's Pete Townshend penned the score as well as the book alongside McAnuff; the show also features additional music and lyrics by the band's John Entwistle and Keith Moon.

Hal Luftig and Patrick Catullo will produce; the two are also behind another rock offering that just opened on Broadway: David Byrne's American Utopia.

From Ryan McPhee for

Photo: Scene from The Who’s Tommy at the Stratford Festival with Robert Markus as Tommy. © 2013 Michael Cooper.