The Who’s Pete Townshend announces ‘poignant and poetic’ Quadrophenia ballet

The show will be set to an orchestral version of the classic album.

Pete Townshend and the cast of Quadrophenia (Johan Persson)
Pete Townshend and the cast of Quadrophenia (Johan Persson) (Johan Persson)

The Who star Pete Townshend has said a new Quadrophenia “Mod ballet” will be “poignant, tender and poetic and epic”.

The dance production is based on the 1973 album, written by Townshend and performed by The Who, and the 1979 cult film of the same name that it inspired.

Quadrophenia, A Mod Ballet aims to introduce a new audience to the story of young 1960s Mod Jimmy Cooper, played in the film by Phil Daniels, who escapes from his dead-end job as a post room boy by dancing, partying, taking drugs, riding his scooter and brawling.

Pete Townshend (centre) with star Paris Fitzpatrick (behind) (Johan Persson)
Pete Townshend (centre) with star Paris Fitzpatrick (behind) (Johan Persson) (Johan Persson)

Produced by Sadler’s Wells, it will be set to an orchestral arrangement of the album by Rachel Fuller and Martin Batchelar, which was first heard in concert version at The Royal Albert Hall and recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

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.

“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.”

Phil Daniels starred in the original Quadrophenia film
Phil Daniels starred in the original Quadrophenia film (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Sir Alistair Spalding, artistic director and co-CEO of Sadler’s Wells, added: “It’s an honour for Sadler’s Wells to be a collaborator and lead producer of this unique production.

“Quadrophenia is a story crying out to be told through dance and with this talented creative team we can be sure that we can achieve its full potential.

“Working closely with Pete Townshend and his team and our regular collaborator Universal Music UK we can each bring our particular skills and knowledge to make this classic of The Who’s discography a powerful and meaningful story for our time.”

The ballet, choreographed by Paul Roberts and directed by Rob Ashford, will have costumes by British fashion house Paul Smith and Natalie Pryce and will star Paris Fitzpatrick as Jimmy.

Paris Fitzpatrick (Johan Persson)
Paris Fitzpatrick (Johan Persson) (Johan Persson)

Fitzpatrick recently won the outstanding male modern performance prize for his turn as Romeo in New Adventures’ production of Romeo And Juliet at the National Dance Awards.

David Joseph, chairman and CEO of Universal Music UK, said: “When Rachel and Pete came to me with the idea of a Quadrophenia ballet with extraordinary new arrangements, it was probably one of the easiest ‘we’re in’ moments I’ve had.

“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Alistair and the Sadler’s Wells team so they were the obvious next call, and they just got it immediately.

“Our only conditions for this project were artistic and creative excellence, which each partner has delivered in abundance.

“Finally, I must thank Paul Roberts, whose genius has lifted the whole production into something we are all so proud of.”

Quadrophenia, A Mod Ballet will play at the Plymouth Theatre Royal on May 28 2025 before stops at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre and the Mayflower, Southampton.

It will have an official opening at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London from June 24 before visiting The Lowry in Salford from July 15.