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The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’: Get ready for a Mod Ballet

The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’: Get ready for a Mod ballet - pictured: The Who frontman Pete Townshend
The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’: Get ready for a Mod ballet - pictured: The Who frontman Pete Townshend Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By David Mouriquand
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50 years since its release, the legendary concept album by The Who has been reimagined as a stage ballet production which will premiere next year and tour the UK in 2025.


The Who’s iconic rock opera 'Quadrophenia' is set to make its debut as a ballet production in the UK next year.

Sadler's Wells Theatre in Islington, London, and Universal Music UK have confirmed the world premiere of “Quadrophenia, a Mod Ballet”, which will feature dancers bringing to life the story of troubled mod Jimmy – which was originally chronicled in the 1973 album and subsequently transposed to the screen in the cult 1979 classic, starring Phil Daniels and Sting.

The ballet is set to tour Plymouth, Edinburgh and Southampton before its official opening at Sadler’s Wells on 24 June 2025.

It’s a weighty endeavour, as the sixth studio album by the British rock band is an ambitious double concept album and the group’s third rock opera after 'A Quick One, While He’s Away' (1966) and the peerless 'Tommy' (1969).

Set in London and Brighton in 1965, the story follows a young disillusioned mod named Jimmy Cooper and his search for self-worth – which includes brawls, parties, scooter riding and plenty of amphetamines.  

For those of you who need a refresher, ‘mod’ comes from the word ‘modernist’. It’s a subculture that began in the UK in the 1950s, one which focused on music (soul, ska and jazz), fashion (tailor-made suits) and a lot of scooters (Vespas and Lambrettas were the vehicles of choice).

There was something of a “moral panic” in the 60s, as mods clashed with the rival subculture of rockers, but by the mid-60s, that had more or less subsided and mods gravitated towards pop art to become emblematic of the youth culture of “Swinging London”.

The production of “Quadrophenia, a Mod Ballet”, set to an orchestral arrangement of the album by Rachel Fuller and Martin Batchelar, will be directed by American stage director Rob Ashford (who was behind the London shows "Evita", "A Streetcar Named Desire" and the co-direction of "The Winter’s Tale" with Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench) and choreographed by British choreographer Paul Roberts (who you may know from the award-winning Harry Styles video ‘Treat People With Kindness’ featuring Phoebe Waller-Bridge).

The main role of Jimmy will be played by Paris Fitzpatrick, the recent winner of the outstanding male modern performance at the UK’s National Dance Awards for playing Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet”.

And considering it’s all things mod, sharp fashion is of paramount importance, so who better to get on board than British fashion house Paul Smith?

The Who frontman Pete Townshend said: “‘Quadrophenia’ is the only Who album that I solely composed and produced. And the movie that followed in 1979 launched the careers of some of the finest young actors of the time. In 2016, Rachel Fuller agreed to create an orchestral score of the album. When I first heard a demo of this version, without vocals, my first thought was that it would make a powerfully rhythmic and emotionally engaging ballet.”

He continued: “Workshopped in 2023, that thought became a reality and I knew we had something that would resonate with new audiences, and also bring joy, as it had in its other iterations for decades. The themes of young people growing up in difficult times are still so relevant. It’s going to be poignant, tender and poetic and epic.”

“Quadrophenia, a Mod Ballet” opens at Plymouth Theatre Royal on 28 May 2025 before touring the UK.

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