I have long known of the Plymouth Theatre Royal; its director Adrian Vinken has been a staunch advocate in the business of bringing Quadrophenia to the stage for at least five years. I knew that the theatre had a tradition of launching inventive new productions, and that the theatre itself, and the community of Plymouth, provided a healthy and supportive climate in which to test new work. What I did not know was how incredible are the rehearsal stages, scenery docks, design and wardrobe rooms at the new TR buildings opposite the Yacht Haven by the water.
In 1992 I developed Tommy for the theatre with its director Des McAnuff (now more famous for Jersey Boys). This would not have been possible but for the beautiful and potent facilities of the La Jolla Playhouse in the relatively wealthy and supportive climate of the San Diego University of California. I remember thinking at the time that only the National had similar power in the UK, and what a pity it was that I would probably never get to launch Quadrophenia with such wonderful facilities.
In Plymouth those facilities are available, and we have used them to the maximum. TR2 is a very large rehearsal stage with natural light, a view of the water that does not distract (unless you want it to), supported by workshops and expert technicians of all kinds, an incredible wardrobe department, excellent and very fattening catering, easy parking and access and two smaller stages of equal style, with lovely level dancing floors. All the time I have been working there recently I have had the pleasure of seeing young people rolling in and out on educational programmes, all of them glancing sideways at what is going on in TR2 where actors only a few years older than they are singing and dancing like young gods. The whole building vibrates with hope and excitement.
What has been achieved with staging and launching Quadrophenia here in Plymouth would not have been possible anywhere else that I can think of in the UK. The work done by the local community to get these supporting TR facilities established will help my show to fly, and I will always be grateful for their vision as well as their funding and fund-raising. I so hope that by return some of you will enjoy my noisy show.
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