Yesterday I made the most of my opportunities with Sheffield Theatres’ new Ignite scheme and went to see Ramps on the Moon’s new production of The Who’s Tommy. The show has some great music and it had a very strong cast, with great integration of sign language. At times, I didn’t even notice the signing it had been integrated into the movement so well. The show’s plot, however, is quite thin and quite dark as well with themes of abuse, affairs and possibly prostitution throughout.
The title role is played by deaf performer William Grint (The Beauty Manifesto). He really played this role very well and really got into the heart of the character. This is one of the few, if not the only, character in the show who gets a full progression and William portrayed that very well. The singing voice of Tommy was Julian Capolei and Matthew Jacobs-Morgan who both had amazing voices that worked well indvidually and together, although I didn’t understand why Tommy needed two performers to sing his part.
Tommy’s mother, Nora, was also played by a deaf performer Donna Mullings (Love’s Labour’s Lost). She, again, really got to the heart of the character and the character is quite possibly one of the only ones we like throughout. Shekinah McFarlane (Hair, Parade, The Lion King) sings the voice of Nora and she stole the show for me. Her voice was phenomenal – very powerful. She blew the roof off multiple times. Alim Jayda (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Annie, Sinbad the Sailor) made a very strong Frank and played this completely unlikeable character very well. He had a good singing voice and his stage presence was very good.
Amy Trigg (The Glass Menagerie) did a wonderful job as Sally Simpson. She, again, was a character we liked throughout the whole show and was very believable in her role although the character didn’t go quite where I thought it would. Max Runham (The Threepenny Opera, A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer) did a great job as Captain Walker who had a lovely voice in his short repeated song although quite why he kept returning I’m not entirely sure. He had a great on stage chemistry with William Grint as Tommy.
Peter Straker must also be mentioned who, in this production, played the Acid Queen. He was in the original production of The Who’s Tommy so it was impressive that the producers managed to get him to come and do it again but this time in a different role. His voice is sensational, he completely blew the roof off with his songs, including a new song written especially for this production. Acid Queen was a very bizarre character but Peter did a wonderful job making some sense of it.
There were many other strong supporting performers too including Lukus Alexander as Cousin Kevin, Stacey Ghent as Mrs Simpson and Natasha Lewis as Hawker (who had a phenomenal voice I must add).
Although I did thoroughly enjoy the performances in this show, I didn’t think it was quite standing ovation worthy as a show. The show itself wasn’t great but actual production side of it was. The set was simple but very effective and the lighting for the show was awesome.
The Who’s Tommy concludes it’s UK tour on 1st July at Sheffield Crucible, where it is currently playing.