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Des McAnuff Talks About How Broadway’s Tommy Has New Meaning for Today

Theatre Mania

Des McAnuff co-wrote the book for The Who’s Tommy with Pete Townshend and directed the first production on Broadway in 1993. He won a Tony Award for his direction and was nominated for the book, yet there were still new discoveries to be made in the piece. Now he’s back directing the show’s first Broadway revival at the Nederlander Theatre.

McAnuff and Townshend were working on developing a new screenplay and realized that now would be the time for a fresh Tommy on the stage. Based on the 1969 concept album, the rock opera is about Tommy Walker, who loses his sight, hearing, and speech after witnessing his father murder his mother’s lover. He gains fame for his pinball abilities and eventually gets back his senses, becoming a leader to his cultlike following. “Everybody’s walking around looking into a mirror, albeit a black one,” McAnuff says. “There’s this impulse to escape within to get away from a hostile world, and so without having to change the story all that dramatically, we felt it had new meaning.”

McAnuff, whose other directing credits include Jersey Boys and Ain’t Too Proud, recently spoke about the concept for the revival, his extensive career, and the kind of director he’s become...READ MORE



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