Glasgow Sunday Mail on stage Quadrophenia

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Sun Mar 29 13:35:53 UTC 2009

The New March Of The Mods 
Mar 29 2009 By Billy Sloan

In 1973, The Who's Pete Townshend hailed his band's Quadrophenia album as "the best I'll ever write".

But even he couldn't have envisaged his classic rock opera would take on such a life of its own.

The record - which tells the story of Mod teenager Jimmy Cooper - was transformed into a hit movie starring Phil Daniels in the lead role.

The hysteria surrounding the star-studded 1979 film - its stars included Sting, Leslie Ash, Toyah Wilcox and Ray Winstone-sparked a Mod revival.

The Who performed Quadrophenia at Hyde Park in London 17 years later...then toured Britain and America playing the album in concert.

Now Quadrophenia is being revived in the first ever stage version of Townshend's masterpiece.

Fans in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen will be among the first to see a new adaptation by writer Jeff Young.

It recreates Jimmy's journey from London to Brighton in 1964 which culminates in the "second Battle of Hastings" when gangs of Mods fight Rockers on the seafront.

The musical has Townshend's full blessing and he's assisted in the script and casting.

Jeff revealed: "We've gone back to the original 1973 album and drawn our story from the songs ... the musical is not based on the 1979 film at all. It's our interpretation of Jimmy's life but taken from the lyrics of those tracks."

Jimmy's story is set in 1964 at the height of the original Mod boom. He works as a post boy in a London advertising agency but all he lives for is the weekend when he can ride his scooter, listen to music, chase girls and pop pills.

When the Mods invade Brighton on a Bank Holiday Monday led by the Ace Face - immortalised in the movie by Sting - he feels at one with his mates.

But after a disastrous fling with Steph (played in the film by Leslie Ash), his life begins to unravel. He quits his job, travels back to Brighton on the train - encapsulated in Townshend's classic song, 5:15 - and gets a shock when he spots the Ace Face working in a hotel.

"We show how Jimmy idolises the Ace Face but then discovers he works as a lowly bell boy in a hotel and realises he's no longer the coolest Mod in town," said Jeff.

In the movie, Jimmy steals Ace Face's scooter, rides it up to Beachy Head and jumps off before it crashes over the cliffs. The film's ambiguous ending fails to explain what happens to him.

Jeff told me: "In our adaptation Jimmy's life ends on a much more hopeful note. You begin to think he actually might have a chance and things will work out for him."

The musical will feature Quadrophenia hits such as The Real Me, The Punk And The Godfather and Dr Jimmy. The unknown 16-strong cast were chosen from an audition of 400 young hopefuls and the actor who'll play Jimmy has yet to be cast.

Jeff had to get permission from Townshend to stage Quadrophenia. The pair worked together on aBBCRadio 3 production of Lifehouse, a version of the ill-fated sci-fi opera that was the foundation of The Who's classic 1971 album, Who's Next.

In 2007, Jeff invited Pete to a Quadrophenia workshop in Cardiff to see if the rock opera could be adapted for the theatre.

Jeff says: "The workshop was to give him an idea of how we'd stage it. Pete thought we were on to something and gave his blessing. I think Quadrophenia is a work of complete genius and hopefully our show will reflect that."

Quadrophenia is at Edinburgh Festival Theatre from May 25-30 (0131 529 6000); GlasgowKing's Theatre fromJune 1-6 (0870 060 6647) and Aberdeen His Majesty's Theatre (01224 641122) from August 17-22

 -Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month! 


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