12-26 September 2015
Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
In 1969 The Who released one of their most well-known albums, the rock opera, “Tommy”. The album tells the tale of Tommy, who as a young boy witnesses his father murder his mother’s boyfriend and becomes deaf, dumb and blind as a consequence.
The excellent set makes use of the whole stage and a video backdrop is very effective at setting the scene. The musical takes us smoothly through Tommy’s early years, showcasing the events leading up to the tragedy which robs Tommy of his senses and the songs flow easily. The two young boys playing Tommy aged 4 and aged 10 were both excellent and maintained expressionless faces throughout the show. Considering how young they were I was very impressed with them both.
Tommy has a pretty awful life and the musical covers the tricky subjects of child abuse and bullying in a sensitive way. When creepy Uncle Ernie, played excellently by Tony Bayliss sang Fiddle About I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable due to the nature of the song but also fascinated by how well he portrayed the character.
The older Tommy is played by Joe McElderry, an X-Factor celebrity. In the first half I felt that he wasn’t at full strength and not being familiar with the songs I struggled to make out the words but fortunately by the second half of the musical he seemed to improve and the words were much clearer. Antony Costa (Cousin Kevin) was great throughout the show with a strong voice and powerful stage presence. This is a large cast and very much a team effort but Tony Bayliss and Melanie Bright as Gypsy really stood out for me.
Being a rock opera we expected loud music and the live band didn’t disappoint. A nice touch was a reveal at the end of the show so that we could see the band as they played their encore.
Paul Nicholas, who starred in the 1975 film version with Elton John directs the show which runs at Blackpool Opera House until 26th September. The Opera House, one of the UK’s largest theatres, is located within Blackpool’s famous Winter Gardens and seats almost 3,000 people. Being such an old building means there are lots of lovely original features and it really is full of character. There is plenty of parking nearby, either on ground level or multi storey car parks. We paid £3.00 to park on a nearby car park that was only a few minutes walk away from the theatre.
On our return home we drove through Blackpool’s famous lights which was a lovely way to end the evening.
Tickets cost from £20 to £39.50 (booking fees may apply).
Tommy – The Rock Opera is at the Blackpool Opera House until 26 September 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 856 1111.
Opera House Theatre, 97 Church Street, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 1HL | 0844 856 1111