The Who’s ‘Tommy’ Musical Bids Farewell to Broadway After Just Four Months

The reimagined revival of The Who’s ‘Tommy’ musical is set to close on Broadway after a brief four-month run. Despite its initial promise and a successful pre-Broadway stint, the show, which features music and lyrics by Pete Townshend, struggled with ticket sales once it moved from Chicago to New York.

‘Tommy,’ originally a 1969 concept album by The Who, tells the story of a boy who becomes a pinball wizard despite being deaf, dumb, and blind due to childhood trauma. It first hit Broadway in 1993 and was celebrated for its innovative storytelling and music. Last year, excitement surged when Townshend and director Des McAnuff announced a revival slated for 2024.

However, the revival faced challenges from the start. After opening in March, ticket sales declined, leading to the decision to close the show on July 21. By the time it closes, ‘Tommy’ will have completed 132 performances and 20 previews. Unfortunately, the revenue generated won’t cover the show’s $15.7 million budget.

This closure highlights a broader issue with Broadway ticket sales. Just last week, ‘The Heart Of Rock And Roll,’ a jukebox musical featuring songs by Huey Lewis And The News, also closed after only two months. Yet, not all music-oriented productions are struggling. Shows like the Fleetwood Mac-inspired ‘Stereophonic’ and the Sufjan Stevens adaptation of ‘Illinois’ are performing well.

Looking ahead, ‘Tommy’ is not disappearing entirely. A national tour is planned to kick off in Rhode Island in the autumn of 2025, giving fans across the country a chance to experience the musical.

In related news, Pete Townshend has been candid about the future of The Who. Speaking to NME, he expressed reluctance to label any upcoming shows as their last, despite acknowledging that it could boost ticket sales. He emphasized a preference for the band to continue performing as long as they are capable, rather than announcing a final tour just to fill seats.

Roger Daltrey, the band’s iconic frontman, has also voiced his frustrations with touring, particularly with fans who research setlists before concerts, reducing the spontaneity and excitement of live performances.

As ‘Tommy’ prepares to leave Broadway, it leaves behind a legacy of pushing musical boundaries and captivating audiences with its unique story and powerful music. The national tour will undoubtedly offer a new chapter for this iconic musical, ensuring its story continues to resonate with fans old and new.

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