Express & Star

Tommy, Birmingham REP - review

It rocked, it rolled and it definitely entertained.

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Tommy at Birmingham REP

The Who's Tommy took us back to the era that brought us legendary band, revealing the harrowing story that resulted in one of the greatest rock albums of our time.

The production took to the stage at the Birmingham REP last night, with a diverse cast of talented musicians, dancers and actors.

William Grint excelled in his roll as Tommy - bringing an powerful yet subtle sadness to his role as the "deaf, blind, dumb kid."

Without any spoilers, the production tells the story of the 10-year-old Tommy who loses his Captain father and withdraws into himself.

Despite several medical tests, the only remedy that seems to work is, well, pinball.

In fact, the show follows the title tracks of The Who's 1969 album the same name, composed by guitarist Pete Townshend.

The production goes from It's A Boy to 1921, Amazing Journey, Eyesight To The Blind, Christmas, Cousin Kevin, The Acid Queen, Do You Think It's Alright?, Fiddle About, Pinball Wizard, There's A Doctor I've Found, Go To The Mirror Boy, Tommy Can You Hear Me, Smash The Mirror, Sensation, Miracle Cure, Sally Simpson, I'm Free, Welcome, Tommy's Holiday Camp and We're Not Gonna Take It.

In that way, it was an easy to follow, accessible performance for Who fans as well as those less knowledgeable of their work.

Amy Trigg as Sally Simpson was one to remember in her role of Tommy's friend and potential love interest, whilst Max Runham was a sincere, believable Captain and father to Tommy.

Donna Mullings as Tommy's mother Nora delivered an eye-opening, emotional performance through sign language, whilst Shekinah McFarlane as the voice of Nora demonstrated her striking vocals throughout.

Indeed, all the cast delivered performances that mixed sign language, singing, dancing despite their physical, auditory, and visual impairments.

Peter Straker, the formidable Acid Queen was a terrifying, domineering character of our nightmares, whilst Alim Jayda was a hapless step-father just trying to do his best.

All this was brought to us through the music of The Who, which was expertly woven into the production's narrative.

The band were stars in their own right, with guitarist Tony Quinta, and Steve Simmonds on bass bringing the show to a rip-roaring end.

You are usually best placed to judge a performance by the reception it gets at it's conclusion and with the audience all on their feet for a standing ovation, it was clear that this production delivered something "I Can't Explain."

Tommy continues at the REP until May 27.

For more information and for tickets, visit