NOT one, not two, but three young men are limbering up to take the part of Tommy in The Who’s infamous rock opera opening at the Kenton Theatre next Wednesday.
The grown-up Tommy is played by rising star 22-year-old Ben Smith, who plays in possibly his last amateur production before going on a nationwide professional tour of a new musical, Bohemian Rhapsody.
Click here to watch our exclusive video behind the scenes with the cast and crew of Tommy.
Meanwhile, the 10-year-old Tommy is being played by two local boys, Max Riley and Ed Drakeford-Lewis, who share the role.
In the rock opera, young Tommy becomes deaf, dumb and blind after witnessing his father shooting his mother’s lover. This is the first time Tommy has seen his father, who had gone off to war before he was born and was missing presumed dead.
From that moment on, both young actors play the part of a boy who lives in a catatonic state, unable to react to anything going on around him.
This is a début appearance for both boys with Henley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, and according to their mums, who are both backing singers in the chorus, they are very much enjoying the experience.
Samantha Riley, Max’s mum, said: “I think it’s safe to say they are having the time of their lives. They are both brimming with confidence and their cheeky antics in rehearsals have endeared them to the rest of the adult cast. Although Max had never heard of Tommy or music by The Who, he is thoroughly enjoying the whole experience.”
10-year-old Max, a pupil at Sacred Heart Primary School in Henley, got the acting bug after appearing in the Stageworks production of Aladdin last year at the Kenton.
Ed Drakeford-Lewis, from Sonning Common, attends Chiltern Edge School. The boys have become firm friends during the last three months and are planning to keep in touch after the show.
Max plays Tommy on Wednesday and Friday evening and the Saturday matinée while Ed treads the boards on Thursday and Saturday evening.
lTommy: A Rock Opera plays from Wednesday to Saturday, April 17 to 20. Box office (01491) 575698 or visit www.kentontheatre.co.uk