Beccles-based theatre group to stage musical adaptation of The Who’s classic rock opera Quadrophenia

PUBLISHED: 11:41 07 December 2016 | UPDATED: 11:41 07 December 2016

Andy Osborne, show director on a scooter which AR Motorcycles will loan Spotlight. Picture: Caroline Lawrence Photography

Andy Osborne, show director on a scooter which AR Motorcycles will loan Spotlight. Picture: Caroline Lawrence Photography

Caroline Lawrence Photography

It was a hit album that spawned a cult film.


Quadrophenia is a stage musical based on the sixth studio album by rock band The Who, released on October 19, 1973, and a film of the same name, released in 1979.

The album was the group’s second full-length rock opera, and the story reveals social, musical and psychological events from an English teenager’s perspective.

The music and songs were composed by guitarist Pete Townshend and the story is set in London and Brighton in 1964 and 1965. Quadrophenia has been named one of the 100 greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone magazine and the TV music channel VH1.

And now a classic rock opera is set to roll into north Suffolk for a regional amateur premiere.


The term mod derives from modernist. Mod is a subculture that started in the UK in the 1960s. Focused on music and fashion, the subculture has its roots from a small group of London-based stylish young men in the late 1950s who were termed modernists because they listened to modern jazz, and this expanded to include women. Significant elements include fashion, music and motor scooters. In England, during the early to mid 1960s, mods often engaged in brawls with rockers. In the late 1960s, the conflicts subsided, as several rock bands – including The Who and the Small Faces – adopted a mod style. London became synonymous with fashion, music, and pop culture in these years, in what was a period known as “Swinging London.”

Beccles-based Spotlight Musical Theatre Group has landed a “massive coup” – by securing a stage musical adaptation of The Who’s iconic rock opera, Quadrophenia.


With the role of Jimmy requiring four different actors to represent the different aspects of his split personality, Spotlight show director Andy Osborne said: “The Mods really have to be strong singers, and strong actors. There are 12 principal roles and 14 chorus roles and the script we have really flows like a film. For us to stage the East Anglia amateur premiere, it really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as we will be the fifth group in the world to hold this stage musical adaptation.”

After the recent success of their winter show, Cinderella, Spotlight announced this week that their summer 2017 production is a musical adaptation of The Who’s classic rock opera, courtesy of NK Theatre Arts, Romiley.

Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who. Picture: Yui Mok/PA WireRoger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Show director Andy Osborne said: “After directing the NODA award nominated stage musical Tommy, also by The Who, it’s taken a whole year of negotiation to get agreement direct from Pete Townshend’s production company for Spotlight to put on this unique stage musical production, which was written by Stockport-based group NK Theatre Arts.

Pete Townshend. Picture: Yui Mok/PA WirePete Townshend. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

“This is a first for an amateur group in East Anglia and Spotlight will be the fifth group in the world to ever present a stage musical adaptation of Quadrophenia.

Mods in Great Yarmouth in 1965Mods in Great Yarmouth in 1965

“This is not one of the usual off-the-shelf musicals, as there is no published music or singing score.

“A lot of hard work lies ahead not only for the production team but for the actors and actresses that will be in the show. The production team are very excited, dedicated and highly motivated.”

He added: “It is a massive coup, and I was elated - really chuffed to bits - to get the amazing news in May that we had agreement from Pete Townshend’s production company.”

Spotlight has also obtained show sponsorship from AR Motorcycles Limited, Lowestoft. Manager, Jamie Hewitt, said: “It’s a pleasure to sponsor this production and we are assisting with the loan of a scooter for the duration of the show.

“We have connections with local Scooter Clubs so we’ll be doing our bit to promote Quadrophenia.”

The group is now on the lookout for actors and actresses who can sing and dance to play all the principal and chorus roles in this show. Ideally aged between 16 and 30, for the Mods and Modettes, and 18 to 50 for some of the chorus roles, a show preview evening will be held at the Quaker Hall, Smallgate, Beccles on Tuesday, December 13 from 7.30pm, for anyone who is interested.

Mr Osborne added: “Come along to our show preview evening next Tuesday, and see what this unique Mod musical is all about - with the characters and all the songs taken from The Who’s Quadrophenia album. This really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

More than 40 years after it was first committed to vinyl, the evocative coming-of-age story has been turned into a stage show,

Set in London and Brighton at the height of the Mod era and with the country on the brink of change, it tells the story of rebel Jimmy, who is searching for a place to belong and a girl to love. He sets off on a trip to Brighton, spiritual home of the scooter-riding Mods, which changes his life forever.

■ For more information, email Mr Osborne at

■ Quadrophenia will be presented at the Public Hall, Beccles, from June 27 to July 1, 2017 – with five shows The Who fans should not miss.

Tickets will be available online from next Friday, December 16, via

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