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The Who’s Pete Townshend hopes Quadrophenia ballet will be ‘joyful’

The dance production is based on the 1973 album.

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Pete Townshend with star Paris Fitzpatrick and others

The Who star Pete Townshend has said he hopes that a ballet version of Quadrophenia will be a “joyful” reimagining of the classic rock opera.

The dance production is based on the 1973 album, written by Townshend and performed by The Who, which also inspired the 1979 cult film of the same name.

Quadrophenia, A Mod Ballet aims to introduce a new audience to the story of young 1960s Mod Jimmy Cooper, played in the film by Phil Daniels, who escapes from his dead-end job as a post room boy by dancing, partying, taking drugs, riding his scooter and brawling.

Produced by Sadler’s Wells, it will be set to an orchestral arrangement of the album by Rachel Fuller and Martin Batchelar, which was first heard in concert version at The Royal Albert Hall and recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Pete Townshend and the cast of Quadrophenia
Pete Townshend and the cast of Quadrophenia (Johan Persson)

Townshend told the PA news agency that he “felt moved” and “surprised” by the idea of a ballet so gave the green light for the new production to go ahead.

He added: “It felt to me that for the first time that time had moved under the project.

“Not that Quadrophenia story is about the present day, but it’s mythic and it works in a mythic way in the present day, just like Shakespeare does, just like Greek myth, just like fairy tales do. It suddenly had a new nuance and a new moment, it felt to me, and we began about 18 months ago workshopping.”

Townshend hopes that the ballet “brings a light way” to discuss modern issues such as knife crime and anxiety in young people, despite being set in the 1960s.

“So if I suggest (for) you to go to Quadrophenia, that might help you take a stance on where you are today in your life,” he said.

“I hope we can fulfil that promise that it will be entertaining, joyful, will help you to reflect and maybe give you some inspiration and hope.”

Phil Daniels
Phil Daniels starred in the original Quadrophenia film (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Sir Alistair Spalding, artistic director and co-CEO of Sadler’s Wells, added: “Quadrophenia is a story crying out to be told through dance and with this talented creative team we can be sure that we can achieve its full potential.

“Working closely with Pete Townshend and his team and our regular collaborator Universal Music UK we can each bring our particular skills and knowledge to make this classic of The Who’s discography a powerful and meaningful story for our time.”

The ballet, choreographed by Paul Roberts and directed by Rob Ashford, will have costumes by British fashion house Paul Smith and Natalie Pryce and will star Paris Fitzpatrick as Jimmy.

Paris Fitzpatrick
Paris Fitzpatrick (Johan Persson/PA)

Fitzpatrick recently won the outstanding male modern performance prize for his turn as Romeo in New Adventures’ production of Romeo And Juliet at the National Dance Awards.

David Joseph, chairman and chief executive of Universal Music UK, said: “When Rachel and Pete came to me with the idea of a Quadrophenia ballet with extraordinary new arrangements, it was probably one of the easiest ‘we’re in’ moments I’ve had.

“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Alistair and the Sadler’s Wells team so they were the obvious next call, and they just got it immediately.

“Our only conditions for this project were artistic and creative excellence, which each partner has delivered in abundance.

“Finally, I must thank Paul Roberts, whose genius has lifted the whole production into something we are all so proud of.”

Quadrophenia, A Mod Ballet will play at the Plymouth Theatre Royal on May 28 2025 before stops at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre and the Mayflower, Southampton.

It will have an official opening at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London from June 24 before visiting The Lowry in Salford from July 15.

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