Stage version of The Who's Quadrophenia
Emma LeeAn inventive stage version of Pete Townshend's iconic rock opera Quadrophenia roars into Norwich Theatre Royal on September 15. Emma Lee speaks to Jimmy, The Lunatic', aka actor Jack Roth.Emma Lee
It was a genre-defying album that spawned a cult film. Now The Who's iconic rock opera Quadrophenia has been reinvented again.
More than 35 years after it was first committed to vinyl, the evocative coming-of-age story has been turned into a stage show, which roars into Norwich Theatre Royal on September 15.
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, a hedonistic, style-conscious teenager who is searching for a place to belong and a girl to love. Suffering from the angst of being misunderstood by his parents and stuck in a dead end job, he sets off on a trip to Brighton, spiritual home of the scooter-riding Mods, which changes his life forever.
Written by guitarist Pete Townsend, Quadrophenia was released in 1973 and has been named one of the 100 greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone magazine and the TV music channel VH1.
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In 1979, it was turned into a film, directed by Franc Roddam and starring Phil Daniels, Leslie Ash, Ray Winstone and Sting.
Despite receiving mixed reviews on its release it's gone on to become a cult classic.
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And now Jeff Young, John O'Hara and Tom Critchley have taken Townsend's music, lyrics and concept to bring the story to life on stage.
It sounds quite high-concept. Four different actors are used to represent the different aspects of Jimmy's split personality: the romantic, the tough guy, the lunatic and the hypocrite.
Rob Kendrick plays Jimmy, The Hypocrite while Jimmy, The Tough Guy, is played by George Maguire. Jimmy, The Romantic, is played by Ryan O'Donnell and the show's love interest, The Girl, is played by Sydney Rae White.
And Jack Roth plays Jimmy, The Lunatic. If you think the surname sounds familiar, you're right. Jack's father is the Oscar-nominated actor Tim Roth, famous for his hard-man roles in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction - and you can certainly see the family resemblance.
Bitten by the acting bug at a young age, Jack is following in his footsteps. His CV to date includes roles in a stage adaptation of a Clockwork Orange, the TV show Waking The Dead and a part in another 60s period piece, Telstar, a biopic of the music producer Joe Meek which also starred Kevin Spacey.
'I had to do this because I didn't get into university,' he laughs. 'I thought 'right, I've got to do this now'.'
But, with acting in the blood, it was a natural course for him to take - and he says that there's nothing better than the escapism of pretending to be someone else for a couple of hours, days or weeks.
'Acting is something I've always done. I grew up on sets,' he says. 'My grandmother was an artist too, so it's in the family. It's a nice form of escapism becoming all these different people. I'm not brave, but I play a lot of brave people. I like characters. I love getting in to it and living it for a while. It's something I've always been interested in.'
Jack says that while he's expected to play certain types of role because of his dad, he's trying to carve out his own niche.
'Everyone expects me to play the hard characters because of my dad. But I've done a lot of softer characters. I also love the classics, period pieces from the 20s to the 40s. You have to try something you're scared of,' he says.
And he certainly gets to push himself playing Jimmy, The Lunatic who's prone to fits of 'unbridled anger'.
'It's an interesting thing to play with,' he says.
Despite claiming that 'singing's not my forte', Jack was really keen to be involved with the show.
'Quadrophenia is one of those very classic cult films. It's really interesting - because there's four actors playing Jimmy, there's four different ways of reacting to things and they're on stage working with each other and egging each other on whereas in the film you've just got Phil Daniels playing all the aspects. It's very visual.'
Despite there being no spoken dialogue in the show - it's all sung - Jack describes Quadrophenia as being an 'anti-musical' in some ways.
'It's an amazing piece of work and it's constantly being developed.
'I don't think that two shows are the same. It's like doing a concert every night.
'It's amazing, full of energy. Everybody gives their heart and soul. It's such a great story and it's something that we all identify with,' he says.
Quadrophenia is at Norwich Theatre Royal from September 15-19. Box office: 01603 630000 and www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk.