Show History



Inspiration for The Who s Tommy, was drawn directly from the 1969 concept album Tommy, from the legendary rock band The Who. The work was the first album in history to be billed overtly as a rock opera and in its original release rocketed the band from somewhat-known single artist into what is now regarded as one of the best and best-known rock bands of all time. The album has sold over 20 million copies worldwide and before being devised as a musical was also the basis for a 1975 film of the same name. Between the original album, movie, and musical the majority of the plot remains intact, with only slight changes between each.


The Who s Tommy first premiered on July 1, 1992, at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California. Acclaimed director Des McAnuff and Pete Townshend sculpted the kaleidoscopic concept album by Townshend's former band, The Who (a 1990 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), into a stage show with a story.

Following this premiere, the show then went on to open on Broadway at the historic St. James Theatre on April 22, 1993, and later closed on June 18, 1995, after 899 performances and 27 previews. Directed by Des McAnuff with choreography by Wayne Cilento, and additional material by fellow The Who band members John Entwistle, Keith Moon and Sonny Boy Williamson, the original cast included such names as Michael Cerveris, Marcia Mitzman, Jonathan Dokuchitz, and Cheryl Freeman. Alice Ripley, Christian Hoff, Norm Lewis, Paul Kandel, Tracy Nicole Chapman, and Sherie Rene Scott, rounded out the ensemble.

Following the Broadway run, The Who's Tommy was subsequently mounted in the West End, Canada, and at numerous regional and community theaters throughout the US and internationally.

Cultural Influence

  • An original cast recording of The Who's Tommy was produced by RCA Victor and released on July 13, 1993.


  • The Who's Tommy was among the first Broadway shows to combat high ticket prices by offering enticements such as free CD's, t-shirts and souvenir programs as well as half-price tickets.
  • In 1994 the musical inspired Data East's production of a pinball machine called The Who's Tommy Pinball Wizard which used music, sound effects, and artwork based on the origin