Joe McElderry ready to play pinball wizard Tommy in The Who’s rock opera

Joe McElderry
Joe McElderry

JOE McElderry says he can’t wait to step back into the role of Tommy.

The South Shields singing star will be taking on the lead role in a new production of The Who’s classic rock opera.

He’ll star as “the deaf, dumb and blind kid who sure plays a mean pinball” at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens in September.

He originally played Tommy at a one-off show at the Prince Edward Theatre, in London’s West End.

The 23-year-old, of Westoe, said: “The show is being put on by different people but they asked me to do it because of that one-off performance.

“It’s something really different to what people would expect me to do. I’m really excited about it. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.

“Its songs are by The Who so they’re quite different to the sort of thing I’d normally sing but I love them and it’s such a great story.”

He added: “I can’t wait to get started on rehearsals and to get out there. I’m really looking forward to it.”

The original album, on which the show was based, was written by Who guitarist Pete Townshend in 1969, and became a smash hit in the West End and on Broadway.

It tells the story of a deaf, dumb and blind pinball player who becomes an international messiah, and includes classic Who songs such as Pinball Wizard, I’m Free and See Me, Feel Me.

The role of Tommy was famously played by Who frontman Roger Daltrey in the 1975 film version.

Joe, who has triumphed on reality shows The X Factor, Popstar to Operastar and The Jump, has taken a leap into theatre in recent years.

As well as his one-off performance of Tommy, he’s also starred in pantomimes Cinderella and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and made a special appearance at the Sunderland Empire during a run of Dirty Dancing in 2012.

Joe added: “The one-off I did was more of a concert but this is the full show, so there’s a lot more acting involved and it’s a real challenge.

“He’s deaf, dumb and blind so he doesn’t react to anything that’s going on around him, and it’s quite hard not to look 
when people are singing and dancing around you.

“I really love theatre and I imagine I will do a lot more of it, but it will always be alongside what I already do because singing is my first love.

“One show I’d really love to do would be a modern story, sort of similar to Grease, so hopefully someone will write something like that.”

Joe is in rehearsals for his new 100-date tour, Evolution, which kicks off at the Customs House, in South Shields, on Saturday, February 21.

He said: “I can’t wait to get back to touring because it really gets you in a routine.

“The show is called Evolution so it’s going to be something really different. I’ve grown up a lot and it’s a more mature show, but there’s still the pop numbers that people can sing and dance along to.

“I’m going to bring back some memories by doing some songs I haven’t performed in a long time and sing some new ones too.

“I really want to show people how much I’ve changed.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki