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Inclusive performance of musical Tommy arrives at Theatre Royal Stratford East

PUBLISHED: 17:29 12 June 2017 | UPDATED: 17:29 12 June 2017

The cast of The Who's Tommy, showing at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Picture Mike Kwasniak

The cast of The Who's Tommy, showing at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Picture Mike Kwasniak

www.mikekwasniak.co.uk

As The Who’s Tommy arrives at Theatre Royal Stratford East (TRSE), director Kerry Michael know it’s a show of particular importance.

Kerry Michael will be stepping down as Theatre Royal Stratford East's artistic director at the end of this yearKerry Michael will be stepping down as Theatre Royal Stratford East's artistic director at the end of this year

The iconic rock opera, which runs now until June 17, marks the final directing job for Kerry who is set to leave TRSE at the end of this year.

“It is very sad,” he admitted. “I love Stratford East but I am leaving because it is the right thing to do.”

An inclusive version of Tommy – which has been playing to audiences for over 40 years – has been on his wishlist for some time.

Each performance from Ramps on the Moon, the inclusive theatre production company behind it, is completely accessible through the embedded use of audio description, captioning and British Sign Language (BSL).

In addition, many of the creative team, as well as the cast, “are diverse” with a disability of some kind.

”That is a first,” said Kerry. “By making it more inclusive, you make it more interesting and rewarding as a piece of work.”

He calls the 22-strong cast “the most talented bunch of people on stage”.

“We used to have thing called the “triple threat” – the ability to sing, dance and act well – “now you talk about a quadruple threat” he added, saying that many of the cast can also play a musical instrument or use BSL.

The show is mid-way through a UK-wide tour and has already been lavished with praise from audiences and critics alike.

Kerry says Tommy is not just about “good story-telling” but “a story that is relevant to what is going on now”.

“We still want to label other people,” he said. “Pete Townsend was writing a show about family and how people can put people up on a pedestal which can become quite dangerous.”

The show also deals with sexual abuse, bullying, fame and feelings of disconnectiveness.

“The music is amazing,” said Kerry. “We have had a great time hearing the music but also because it is quite a challenging story because Tommy goes through a huge rite of passage.”

He added: “Audiences are loving it so it is quite nice to go out with a show that we know is really popular,” he said.

Tickets from £12. Visit stratfordeast.com

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