‘The Seeker’ Musical to Feature Townshend, Elton John

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Pete Townshend and his wife Rachel Fuller, 2017, via his Facebook page

On Sept. 20, 2017, Pete Townshend announced on his Facebook page that he would be taking a “one year ‘sabbatical’ from all the things I normally do in my career.” He had been going almost non-stop with tours with The Who and the limited presentation of his Classic Quadrophenia U.S. tour that September.

He went on to explain “there are many new things a fairly long way in the future for me. I very doubt I will get paid as much as I do when I work with The Who, but this is really necessary for me. I so desperately need to do something new and different – and yet I don’t really have a plan for what I might do. It will emerge I suppose.”

Less than 15 minutes later, another post revealed some big personal news. “It’s time to make an announcement that [musical arranger and composer Rachel Fuller] and I were married in December last year. This is a very, very happy thing for both of us. We have been together for more than twenty years, meeting at a rehearsal studio back in October 1996 where The Who were preparing for their own first revival Quadrophenia tour.

“We… did keep it as quiet as we could, telling only close family. I am incredibly proud of her, and if there is any element of her being any kind of trophy, it’s mainly because she is a fucking genius. But she’s also beautiful and smart. We have so much fun together.”

A depiction of The Ferryman from The Seeker musical website

On Oct. 6, 2017, Townshend announced that he’ll be involved in a new musical by Fuller called The Seeker. The production is described by Fuller as being inspired by the book Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. The website calls it “a tale of human passion and spiritual awakening. Set in the vivid landscape of ancient India, The Seeker will seduce audiences with its sweeping melodic lines, its rich orchestration and timeless themes of love, loss and a deep search for meaning in a troubled world.”

[An earlier description noted that it would also be juxtaposed with a modern New York but that is no longer mentioned.]

The title takes its name from a 1970 Townshend composition recorded by The Who. At least one other song well-known to Who fans is expected to be included in the musical: “Bargain.” (Hear it below.)

Says Townshend: “I am delighted to be able to have this opportunity to perform an acting and singing role in The Seeker. The play includes a few songs from me, one I wrote for the Ferryman (the role I am taking on) back in 1976, so the role seems a good fit.”

An album originally expected to be released in 2018, recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, is now coming in June 2020, with an all-star assemblage of actors and singers.

Christopher Plummer is the narrator. South African singer and actor Nakhane is Saddartha. Townshend is the Ferryman. Elton John is Kamaswami. British singer Emeli Sande is The River. The cast also includes Indian singer Sunidhi Chauhan, British actor Tyrone Huntley and Indian singer-producer Biddu.

Watch Townshend in a behind-the-scenes clip released on April 16

Listen to a bit of Townshend singing “The Ferryman Pt 1”

Townshend continues: “I’m not known for my acting, and I have always said I can’t do it – but recently I realised that I have been acting all my life, pretending to love being on stage in a rock band. At various stages of my career with the Who I have appeared happy, joyful, miserable, bored, in the zone, out of the zone, up my own arse and five feet up in the air……..none of these states has ever reflected what I have really been feeling at the time.

“I have been doing my job as a musician (which comes naturally to me) and acting whatever part I think needs to be put over at the time. So I’m hoping I can do justice to the role of the Ferryman. Basically he is an old bloke with a boat, so I qualify pretty well as someone with more things that float than guitars.”

The earlier work-in-progress production featured tenor Alfie Boe, who sang Roger Daltrey’s portions of the 2017 Classic Quadrophenia live performances.

Listen to Boe singing a portion of “Bargain”

Watch an early trailer, released April 10, 2018, of the work-in-progress production

The Who have announced 2020 U.K. tour dates. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster and here.

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