Pete Townshend Suggests Another Who-Related Project Could Be Turned into a Musical

After reteaming with acclaimed theater director Des McAnuff for the Broadway revival of the musical based on The Who’s famous 1969 concept album, Tommy, Pete Townshend has his eye on another album project by his band that could be brought to the stage.

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In a new interview with Billboard focusing on The Who’s Tommy musical, Townshend and McAnuff were asked if another musical piece from the guitarist/songwriter’s catalog could be ripe for a theatrical interpretation.

[Buy Tickets to The Who’s Tommy Musical]

“Well for me, it’s Life House,” Townshend answered, referring to the complex 1971 multimedia project he’d conceptualized but was unable to bring to fruition at the time, leading to the creation of the Who’s Next album.

“Songs like ‘Baba O’Riley,’ ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again,’ ‘Pure and Easy,’ ‘Behind Blue Eyes,’ those songs all emanated from a sci-fi piece that I wrote called Life House,” Townshend explained. “[It] had a strong spiritual backbone and a lot of ethical issues are brought up in it. This was meant to be the follow-up to Tommy, and it began at the Young Vic theater [in London] in 1971, but was really a bit too ambitious, I think, to survive.”

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He continued, “I would love to do something theatrical or some kind of modern production based on that—that would be my dream, I think, right now. It feels like it has potential. I’ve recently shared some of the collateral of that with Des.”

About Life House

In brief, Life House is a sci-fiction tale set in a dystopian future where people are unable to go outside because of pollution. Instead, they wear special suits that offer them simulated life experiences. The story also involves a guru-like character who seeks to bring people together at a giant rock concert that will use music to help bring them to spiritual enlightenment.

When the project fell apart, The Who selected nine songs from Life House to make a single album, which is how Who’s Next was born.

Over the years, Townshend presented elements from the Life House project in various ways. In 2023, The Who released a massive box set gathering together the music from the Life House and Who’s Next sessions. It also included a graphic novel that told an updated version of the Life House story.

McAnuff Also Is Interested in a Life House Musical

In the Billboard interview, McAnuff shared, “I’m digging into the box set, Who’s Next/Life House, and I’m incredibly excited because I think that the music in Who’s Next, as with Tommy, is obviously masterful, brilliant songs that continue to bounce around in my brain all these years later.”

He also noted, “I also love [The Who’s 1973 rock opera] Quadrophenia—an extraordinary score. But for me it’s Life House next.”

Townshend added, “Give us another five years.”

About The Who’s Tommy Musical

The Broadway revival of The Who’s Tommy musical officially opened on March 28 at the Nederlander Theatre. The original production premiered on Broadway in 1993, and went on to win several Tony Awards.

Asked what the differences might be between the original musical and the new production, Townshend said to Billboard, “A number of people who saw the original show in ’93 have told me they think the storytelling is more solid and clearer somehow this time around.”

He added, “I don’t think it’s because there’s less distraction, because the stage is still a sleigh ride, a visual feast, an onslaught of image and light and color.”

The show currently is scheduled to run through November 24, 2024.

Tickets for The Who’s Tommy are available now via various outlets, including StubHub.

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Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

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