View Full Version : Lord of the Rings: The Musical (No Joke!)

Snorri Swifthammer
03-16-2005, 09:38 AM

This seems very interesting. I reserve judgement unti more details come out. *has an image of orcs singing "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way"*

Evisse the Blue
03-16-2005, 09:45 AM
Well, it's gonna be quite....multicultural. :D That's all I can tell from reading that article. Hey, it may even be good, why not? All that it needs to do is treat certain scenes with respect.
But..eh, maybe I'm too conservative, but the idea of a musical after LOTR makes me cringe a bit.

the phantom
03-16-2005, 10:40 AM
From the article-
There will be no singing and dancing Hobbits.
What?! :eek: If you're not going to have singing and dancing hobbits, why even make a LOTR musical?

Who else is going to sing and dance? Saruman? The ents?

03-16-2005, 12:00 PM
I'm interested in seeing the 'Gandalf-Witch King at the Gate' song and dance number.

"I will enter the city!"

"You will not enter this city over my broken staff."

Just think, the tension builds until the brass section goes wild, then in the silence thereafter we hear this tiny high-pitched voice sing, "Oh Faramir, Oh Faramir, Oh Faramir's a burning..."

Can we pre-order tickets?

03-16-2005, 12:18 PM
Gollem tap dances. And the orcs do the chorus line. According to a local Toronto paper.


Well, a helicopter once landed on the stage when Miss Saigon played in Toronto. No telling what can be done with stage hydraulics these days.

On the other hand, there is Wagner to think about. One hopes the producers have.

The Saucepan Man
03-16-2005, 01:25 PM
Well, the stage production of His Dark Materials, staged at the National Theatre in London, made very effective use of puppetry, costumes and staging technology (as well as the actors themselves) to produce what I thought was an excellent production. The same sort of thing might well be possible with Lord of the Rings (although I am not sure that Hobbits as puppets would work :eek: ). However, even though it was presented as two 3 hour plays, large chunks of the Dark Materials books were jettisoned for the stage production. Imagine how much of LotR (the book) they will have to leave out for this proposed musical. Although, as it is a musical, I suppose that numerous pages of dialogue and exposition can be replaced with song.

Snorri Swifthammer
03-16-2005, 01:52 PM
Maybe we'll see musical LotR crossovers soon....

Snorri Swifthammer
03-16-2005, 01:59 PM
Or maybe one of my favorites...

03-17-2005, 07:57 AM
Thank you Sauce for reminding us of the fairly successful adaptation of Pullman's His Dark Materials.

I would think that it is less a matter of converting the dialogue to song and the action to dance as to translate the many extensive passages of description of Middle earth into the set design and stage scenery. The theatre for this production, The Princess of Wales theatre (yes, it was named for the late Diana, Princess of Wales) will be renovated so that the stage will have 16 elevators.

Perhaps more intriguing for audiences will be the renovation of the audience area into a Middle-earth forest. Obviously the backers of this production realise how much many readers of Tolkien long to live in Middle-earth.

But don't let me stop the jokes. Here's a link for The Lord of the Rings Musical (http://www.lotr.com) to inspire you all. Some might be impressed with the opening intro and music.

03-17-2005, 12:27 PM
There having that in Toronto. Which is near me. Im definetly going when it comes out.

03-18-2005, 04:36 PM
Finally a LOTR event that I can go to. :D They are always too far away for me to go. However, I hope this musical won't make LOTR seem ridiculus.

03-18-2005, 04:57 PM
Thanks for the link Bb. Colour me impressed. :cool:
The 'mission statement' by the creative team is encouraging too:

'Our respect for Tolkien's book means that every step of the adaptation to the stage has been rigorously thought through to avoid any possibility of trivialising the material.'

All my thoughts of seeing Legolas singing 'I Talk To The Trees' or the Hobbits dancing like Oompa lumpas are, mercifully, fading ;)

Tigerlily Gamgee
03-22-2005, 11:01 PM
I, personally, think that it's going to be beautiful. From what I've read, and from what I've heard of the composers... I think it's definitely not going to be what other musicals are. I am very excited about it.
In fact, I'm auditioning for it. I'm just waiting for the Toronto audition dates to be announced.

Estelyn Telcontar
03-23-2005, 06:38 AM
Good luck to you for the audition, Tigerlily! Now that would give all Downers two reasons to go see it!

Dragon Reborn
03-23-2005, 09:33 PM
Well, at first I wasn't so sure, I mean, now there are two things to live up to now- the creation in the book and the creation in the movie. But it certainly is exciting, and they have already been working on it for four years...I'll definitely have to go.

Child of the 7th Age
03-25-2005, 06:28 PM
Here is the information on the auditions for the musical: here. (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20050325/NOTE25-5/TPEntertainment/Theatre)

Tigerlily Gamgee
03-27-2005, 11:15 PM
I find it strange that none of the audition calls I've read have requested that actors bring a monologue. I'm pretty sure, though, that a main casting point for this show is going to be looks. It's all gonna be how tall this person can make that one look, whether or not this person could play off one or more of the races of Middle Earth... etc. I'm just guessing... it seems like it is going to be a hard show to cast.
I'm going to be at the Toronto open call in less than two weeks. I'm scared, but excited! I have so many odds against me for these auditions that it's crazy... I'm crazy... but it's the inspiration of the story alone that's keeping my head on straight about going. The characters in the story kept going despite their odds, so it would be shameful of me to not use that as inspiration for my audition.

03-29-2005, 04:39 PM
I must admit... I am intrigued. I wish I could audition for it, golly that would rock, but alas I live too far away. At first the thought of a LoTR Musical seemed bogus, but now that I have seen more information on it, I might just have to see it when it comes to Broadway! Good Luck on the auditions Tigerlily!

03-29-2005, 04:55 PM
There is an audition spot in Vancouver and though I'm young and oh-so-unexperienced, I'm oh-so-tempted...yes extremely tempted. Just imagine how cool it would be to get involved!

03-30-2005, 01:27 PM
there's a musical of LotR? God help us all..... I can just picture Frodo and Sam marching up mt. doom singing a song....

04-04-2005, 08:14 AM
For those of you who like to keep abreast of the casting news and production progress of the musical, here is an article from a Canadian newspaper. Rather than link to it, I have copied the article as links like this are notoriously short-lived. It is from The Globe and Mail newspaper online. I had no idea Elijah Wood was another Great White North export.

Finding FrodoThe open auditions for next year's stage show of the Tolkien classic are shaping up to be a three-ring circus of wannabe hobbits, orcs and elves, ALEXANDRA GILL reportsBy ALEXANDRA GILL

Monday, April 4, 2005 Page R1

VANCOUVER -- There was no mistaking it for an audition of America's Next Top Model. The search for Frodo began in Vancouver on Saturday morning with the first open casting call for the $27-million stage adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, set to premiere in Toronto next February. Even by the self-effacing standards of reality TV's fame-hungry free-for-alls, it was not a pretty sight.

More than 300 wannabe elves, hobbits and orcs turned up to strut their crooked noses, lumpy bodies, pale skin and narrow-set eyes in front of casting director Stephanie Gorin at the Westin Grand Hotel. There are 52 roles up for grabs in what promoters are calling the most expensive production in the history of theatre. The casting directors are looking for conventional stage actors with unique singing voices, plus an ensemble of dexterous circus performers. As for physical appearance, they're interested in all shapes and sizes. Height -- 5 foot 7 and under for most of the parts -- is the only restriction.

"It's not often you hear of a casting call where they're looking for short singers with unusual looks," says Mike Rinaldi, a 30-year-old Vancouver actor who stands 5 foot 5, with a round bulbous nose and long, thinning hair.

"There are a lot of great-looking hobbits around here," he notes, as the hotel's second-floor lobby fills up with dozens more hopefuls, nervously practising scales, stretching and strumming their mandolins. "But I thought there would be more people in pointy hats with swords and stuff."


Rinaldi, who once photo-doubled on a film set for Elijah Wood, the Canadian who plays Frodo in the Peter Jackson film trilogy, said his friends encouraged him to audition because he kind of looks like a hobbit himself. It would seem he also has the "feisty" presence and "secure baritone" voice the directors were looking for. Rinaldi's rousing rendition of Big Rock Candy Mountain, accompanied by his red ukulele, earned him a call back to read for the role of Sam, Frodo's stalwart hobbit companion.

"I was singing in C and they moved the pitch up to an F," he exclaims, after emerging triumphant from the audition room. "But they seemed to like it. They asked me to come back tomorrow."

This first round of cross-country auditions will continue in Toronto this Friday and in Montreal on April 29. Kevin Wallace, the British producer who has teamed up with David Mirvish (the Toronto impresario behind Les Misérables and The Lion King) and Michael Cohl (tour boss for the Rolling Stones) to mount the Toronto production, advises Canadian aspirants to choose simple songs that they're comfortable delivering without any libretto.

"What we're really looking for are interesting people who have something that draws you to them as storytellers, whether in song or in speech," says Wallace, speaking from London earlier this week. He and director Matthew Warchus will be arriving in Canada in early May for the second round of auditions, to be held in Toronto.

"Without being discourteous to the tradition of musical theatre, we're discouraging people from looking at this as a musical," explains Wallace, a former producer with Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group.

The music, which includes 14 landmark numbers, is being written by Indian composer A. R. Rahman and the Finnish folk group Varttina, with musical supervisor Christopher Nightingale. As Wallace explains, the score will give Middle-Earth a unique sound that, "for want of a better word, requires an ethnic vocal quality." There are, however, exceptions for certain leading roles.

"The person who plays Frodo has to be very comfortable singing, but he does not need a huge singing voice," he says. "It's a voice that needs to be able to deliver -- someone who can stand up at a party and people would really enjoy hearing him sing.

"Whereas Legolas, one of the elves, will be a soloist, accompanied by very exquisite music. His great strength will be his voice, probably a tenor, but he will also have to have a very beautiful aura about him. Gimli, on the other hand, is one of the Earthbound dwarfs and sings a beautiful lament. He must have a deep resonant voice, almost like a Welsh miner.

"And then there's Gollum, who has a very physical role and one big song in which the two characters within him communicate. It's a big virtuoso piece of singing that takes a traditional hobbit song and perverts it with a darkened delivery. The actor must have an unusual, folk-type voice and wide range."

Although the producers have worked out an arrangement with Canadian Actors' Equity that allows them to cast, if necessary, British performers in up to five lead roles, Wallace says the casting is still wide open and he is confident about the talent pool available in Canada. The only difficult aspect will be fulfilling the height requirements.

"How many actors are 5 foot 7 and under? A big wave of actors is automatically eliminated from the process. I do hope there are lots of short ones out there in Canada."

Back in Vancouver, there seems to be no shortage of smallish actors. Still, some of the casting assistants responsible for measuring the applicants just before they head into the audition room are surprised by the discrepancies they've found.

"You wouldn't believe how many people lie on their resumes," exclaims Melanie Crystal, as she measures J. P. Winslow, a 35-year-old folk singer who stands exactly 5 foot 6.

On a brief break midway through the day, casting director Stephanie Gorin already looks exhausted. By noon, she had auditioned 65 people, nine of whom were being called back the next day.

"We've seen all shapes, sizes, colours and types of voices," she laughs. "We've found a few potential hobbits, some circus performers and a lovely male singer who could be a Legolas. But you can't really tell until they come back and read."

Gorin couldn't believe the huge turnout, the biggest she's ever seen in Vancouver. "We've got 300 people to see today, in addition to two days of appointments that I've already done.

"And we're only one step into the journey," she says, shaking her head tiredly. "Imagine what it's going to be like in Toronto."

04-04-2005, 11:50 AM
Hee hee! My friend told me about this. It sounds great from what i've read. I'm just waiting for it to roll into town though... I'm obsessed with theatre...

~ Ka

04-07-2005, 11:09 AM
Maybe they would use Billy Boyd again ....... he is a trained singer and would make the height....

04-15-2005, 04:02 PM
Good luck with your audition Tigerlily were all rooting for ya! :D ;) :p

Tigerlily Gamgee
04-24-2005, 07:12 PM
So, perhaps I should recap my experience at the auditions, no?

Well, I arrived there bright and early... around 8:30 in the morning, and there was already a huge line out the door and around the parking lot. I discovered later that I was number 408 of the non-Equity actors, and there were at least 300 or more Equity seen before they even started with non-Equity... so that means there were more than 700 people seen before me. Yikes!
There were television crews all over of the place... luckily I avoided them because I was not "interesting" enough. Yes, there were some "interesting" people there. You could tell that there were just some die hard fans there who probably had no acting experience whatsoever. A few cloaks, elf ears, and one person with a large walking stick. I was in line next to three lovely people who I befriended that day. If I remember correctly, their names were Mariem, Rob, and Adrianna. Mariem and Adrianna were both singer/actors, and Rob was an actor/combat fighter. We were out in the sun in line for about 4 hours before we got to the sign in desk. After signing in we waited almost another 4 hours before we were seen. We found a little diner in the building where the auditions were being held and camped out there until our audition times. It was a long wait, but making friends in line sure did help out a lot. Many people were crowded in this large gym-like room with a disco ball on the ceiling... sitting, sleeping, or whatever, waiting to be seen. Just say "moo," because this was a cattle call if I've ever seen one.
They were taking us in groups of 10 to be seen by the screeners. When we got downstairs there was someone there with a tape measure to make sure that people weren't lying about their height on their resumes. The woman I sang for was nice, but she told me that my voice was too classical sounding for what they are looking for. It probably didn't help that I'm not Canadian, too, so she didn't recognize any of my resume credits. So, I didn't make it past round one, and neither did any of my line friends. There were many, many, many people who did not make it past the screeners.
I was so tired by the time I was seen that I fear hearing my voice. Ah well, I plan on auditioning again if they bring it to the States. Plus, I will have, hopefully, seen it by then and can try to mold my voice accordingly to match what they are looking for.
All day all you heard was "no vibrato," so they want very clear true toned voices that are light... that what it seems like to me.

By being in Toronto, though, I learned a little more about what is going into thie production and I am even more excitied by it now. It's strange, because I will forever link Toronto with LOTR in my head, because Toronto is where I attended The Gathering of the Fellowship (which, btw, they are organizing another one to coincide with the opening of the musical next year www.tolkiengathering.com), and now it's where I went to audition for the LOTR Musical. I tell ya, though, I think that this show it going to be stunning. I saw some skeletons of the puppetry and stilts they are using for the Black Riders... gah! Amazing! I can't wait to see this show!

04-24-2005, 08:12 PM
Thanks for recounting your audition experience, Tigerlily Gamgee. I'm glad you can be so philosophical about such a cattle call. They are trying! Apparently there were over 300 people too at the Vancouver audition, and there were several others as well.

Will you be seeing the IMAX screening of LotR? I saw Star Wars on IMAX, so I would imagine that might be quite a thrill.

I have heard some very interesting thoughts about this musical, points which I think in many ways are very complimentary to Tolkien himself.

First of all, the guidelines for the roles are really very unique. It is rare to be told, "No one over 5' 7" tall"! And there are some other criteria for size and appearance and voice that provide alot of hope for people who don't fall into the usual tall, willowy and blonde categories. It is good to see actors and actresses who don't have the usual looks and appearance being given a chance. I bet Tolkien would appreciate that. (Hey, I remember seeing a picture of you. You are gorgeous! I couldn't see you as a dwarf or hobbit, but then, I don't know how talented you are!)

People are also hoping that this musical provides a much needed shot in the arm for a city whose arts community still has not recovered from the SARS epidemic scare. Right, the Rolling Stones concert didn't do it. I think that is one reason why the local governments fell behind the Mervishes to support the show there after plans for a London theatre fell through. There should be lots of jobs not only for actors and singers and musicians but all kinds of stage hands. And then the local hotels and restaurants, etc. Sort of like The Shire recovering from the Scouring! ;)

Apparently this production has exclusive rights to the show for 18 months in North America and 9 in England.

So, while Christopher might cringe and JR might be rolling over in the grave, there might indeed be some very positive things to come out of this musical, maybe not all artistic or canonical, but still things which help an artistic community create a vision. I kind of hope that such a positive potential would not be sneared at by a writer as generous as Tolkien. :)

Tigerlily Gamgee
04-24-2005, 09:24 PM
Indeed, Bethberry, very well said. I think a lot of good things will come out of it. I think it's going to be another advancement in stage musicals, just as the films were for Hollywood. I remember when taking a history of musical theatre course that we talked about the shows that changed musical theatre history... I believe, if I am remembering correctly, that those included Showboat, Oklahoma, and Sweeney Todd - I'm sure about the first two, and I think the last one is correct. So, I'm hoping that this musical will just show, again, what wonders can be accomplished on the stage.
I think that Tolkien would appreciate the care and consideration going into this production... I think they are being even more particular with their casting than PJ was... of course, you can't really use special effects to make people look different heights on stage. I think it will come out great because of the care they are giving this show. I can't wait to see who they've cast!
Thanks for the compliments :) Many tell me I resemble Eowyn, so I was hoping for that :) Alas, my dream did not come true, but it will for someone else :) I'll have to post a link to a recording of myself once I get it. I recently sang on a demo CD for a local composer's musical, so I'll actuallyhave a recording of myself within a few months.
And, no, I didn't see the IMAX showing, because I don't actually live in Toronto, I live about 4 hours away from Toronto.

04-25-2005, 11:19 AM
So, while Christopher might cringe and JR might be rolling over in the grave, there might indeed be some very positive things to come out of this musical, maybe not all artistic or canonical, but still things which help an artistic community create a vision. I kind of hope that such a positive potential would not be sneared at by a writer as generous as Tolkien. :)

Since he actively collaborated with Donald Swann (and I appreciate setting a few songs is not quite the same as a full blown musical), it is not inconceivable that he might even have approved of a sincere and respectful version - especially if Edith had liked it..... and even Christopher cooperated with the Radio version ;)

05-14-2005, 09:53 AM
I found this article on the second stage of the auditions for the Lord of the Rings musical and thought people might be interested in it. I'll copy the entire article here because links to newspaper articles don't have a long shelf life. Tigerlily, would you have been prepared for this?

Source: Michael Posner, "Why I won't be in Lord of the Rings," Globe and Mail, Saturday, May 14, 2005. Section R, "Review: Theatre", p. 2.

THE ROAD TO THE RINGS: PART ONEWhy I won't be in Lord of the RingsIn the first of a series on the making of next year's mega-musical, The Lord of the Rings, MICHAEL POSNER goes to the gruelling boot camp that determines whether those who can sing and dance also have the stamina to handle the physically demanding showSaturday, May 14, 2005 Page R2

Disappointing as this news must surely be, I regret to report that I will not be appearing in the forthcoming production of The Lord of the Rings: the Musical. I failed boot camp. Let me explain.

The other night I had dinner with the show's lead producer, Kevin Wallace, and its director and co-writer, Matthew Warchus. Wallace and co-producer Saul Zaentz (in association with David Mirvish and Michael Cohl) are rolling the dice big-time with one of the world's most compelling artistic properties -- J.R.R. Tolkien's classic trilogy. On a working budget of $27-million, no stage musical in history has ever dared so much. If it works, Wallace and Co. will emerge laden with honours and not a little wealth. If it doesn't . . . well, let's not go there just now.

The verdict, of course, won't be in for some time. After several weeks in tryout mode, the show's world premiere will be held at Mirvish's Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto next March 23 (the first tickets go on sale tomorrow at 9 a.m. at http://www.lotr.com). With luck, a second production will open in London's Dominion Theatre in the fall of 2006 or no later than the spring of 2007. And after that, the producers fervently hope: the world.

In the meantime, it seemed like a good idea to chronicle various aspects of the most ambitious musical ever mounted -- from casting, costumes and choreography to marketing, makeup and modern technology (the last of which includes 18 mini-elevators, now being assembled in London, that will be used to move 52 actors constantly around and above the 30-tonne, $1.2-million stage).

Wallace and Warchus thought it wasn't a bad idea either, and invited me along one day this week to watch what they affectionately called "boot camp." They are, they explained, in the second round of auditions, seeing candidates called back for second viewings. Obviously they are looking for people with magical chops in the singing and acting departments. Less obviously they are also looking for people who have the energy and stamina to handle a physically demanding (punishing is probably the more apt word) 3˝-hour show, eight times a week for at least a year (the minimum contract period).

So while Wallace and Warchus sat in one audition room hearing the singers sing and the actors act, I sat in another with Rob Tannion and Alex Frith. They are the Lords of the Mats, the Vaulting Box and other equipment more typically found in fitness studios or gymnasia than in theatre rehearsal halls.

Here's what happens. If, after running the gauntlets of Wallace and Warchus, you're still a candidate for a role, you're sent down the hall to Tannion's and Frith's Definitely Not For the Faint of Heart Boot Camp. The only exemptions are actors being considered for non-physical roles.

Tannion, 35, originally from Brisbane, Australia, is the show's associate choreographer and fitness adviser. Frith, 32, a Brit, is acting as its circus-skills consultant. Using gymnastic props, techno music, and their own ingenuity, they have devised a 45-minute routine that takes one's breath away. Literally.

"The basic objective," says Tannion, a former dancer and fitness instructor, "is to look at core physical fitness, at cardiovascular fitness, and see how people deal with obstacles, and how they move as performers. So strength, endurance, yes, but also: Can they take risks safely, can they move creatively? The tests are tough on purpose, because what we do know is that the show is long and demanding, and you're going to have to be fit. And don't forget -- an audition is two ways. Some people may decide it's not the show for them."

Enter two actors, both seasoned. Ralph (a pseudonym) is 52, and built like a former linebacker -- that is, he's carrying a few extra pounds. The other, Geoff Tyler, who appeared in the recent Mirvish production of The Producers, is 35, lean and lanky, with a dancer's body.

After a few preliminary questions about fitness and fight skills, the audition begins. The first test is for balance. Standing, the actors are told to hold arms akimbo and raise one leg pointed off the floor. Then they close their eyes and try to hold the pose for as long as possible. Then they do the other leg. Geoff is pretty comfortable with this routine and barely stumbles; Ralph struggles, and afterward mouths "It's harder than it looks" in my direction.

Then, on a large, soft gym mat, Ralph and Geoff are asked to run on the spot for a full minute, lifting their legs knee-high to slap their palms. It's amazing how long a minute can seem. For the first 30 seconds, both actors get their knees up smoothly and with good pace. Then the strain starts to show. By the last 20 seconds, both have lost their form and are breathing heavily.

And they've only begun. The next test is a 30-second variation. From a squatting position, they must leap into the air and bring their knees up into a tuck. Thirty seconds of rest, otherwise known as heavy breathing, and then burpees -- the staple of many fitness regimens -- for 30 seconds. By this time, both actors are perspiring. "This is unique," says Ralph, sucking up air. "I've never had this kind of audition before."

With each exercise, the actors must count the number of completions; these are dutifully recorded and will later be compared against those of other performers.

One minute later, with their chests still heaving, Tannion asks them to hold their breath for as long as possible -- another important measure of general fitness. The worst, in a sense, is now over, but what follows is no less challenging.

To a five-minute piece of upbeat music, the actors are instructed to move creatively, without lapsing into formalized dance routines or emotional expression. And after that, they must twice navigate an obstacle course of mats and platforms of different heights, leaping from one to another, before "dying" from the height of the vault box onto a mat. Again, Tannion explains, he's looking not just for physical agility, but for how the actors creatively respond to the test, never showing the same move twice.

Afterward, Ralph says his legs are "like jelly," and he feels "whipped." But the audition has not changed his mind about wanting to be in the show. "It'll be a challenge, should they decide to put me through this. I wasn't as prepared for this as I might have been, but who would be?" Even Tyler, 17 years younger and in better shape, says he "feels like vomiting. It's like military fitness. It was pretty intense, for sure."

I spend the next few hours watching Tannion and Frith put several other actors through their paces. "Awesome," says Raymond Miller, a 23-year-old actor/dancer who shows one of the best levels of fitness I see.. "The toughest thing I've done. Not just all year, but all career. It was brutal, but I loved it."

Jay T. Schramek, 27, who starred recently in Batboy: the Musical and was in Mamma Mia! for a couple of years, says what he appreciated was that "the physicality came from such an organic place -- the movement and the flow are connected to the scenery and the set, as well as to the actor. It's brilliantly challenging because it's thought-provoking, not just endurance-challenging. It'll be an awesome show."

Crystal Martinez, currently in Mamma Mia!, calls it "one of the toughest fitness tests I've ever had. I've never experienced anything like this before."

Later, both Tannion and Frith say they were impressed with the general fitness of the actors, but that it was clear they were pushing themselves hard. "It's very telling when you can only hold your breath, after the cardio tests, for six seconds," Frith says. "If you're really fit, it should be 16 seconds."

Of course, fitness is only one barometer, and in some ways will only complicate the casting process. In each case, the producers and director will have to weigh acting and singing skills against levels of strength, agility and endurance.

They won't have to weigh mine, however.

During the third set of auditions, drill sergeants Tannion and Frith coerced me into trying the first cardio test -- the running-on-the-spot, knees-against-palms exercise. The first 30 seconds were a breeze, and I was safely into average territory with a count of 110 slaps. Everything after that is lost in a painful haze. I don't know where my count finished. I was too exhausted to count, my dreams of playing Aragorn or Frodo shattered.

In The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Legolas says, "few can foresee whither their road will lead them, till they come to its end." I can foresee, because my road just did.

05-14-2005, 02:58 PM
Now I've had a look at the official site, I'm in two minds about this - two minds separated by a wide gulf. :eek: The music sounds interesting, with a Finnish folk group and a composer of Bollywood music involved I'm thinking of some truly bizarre scores. However, the producer worked on the musical of Whistle Down the Wind, and I can't even begin to say what a massacre they made in adapting the original film.

I'd still be likely to go and see it if it opened in London, as my curiosity would get the better of me, and I like to sample bizarre sounding entertainment (which is why I saw Jerry Springer the Opera, which was splendid). But if it's going to be bad then at least we'd get advance warning when they release songs from the soundtrack. The proof will be in the pudding as they say... I remain nervous about this, just as I was about the films.

Tigerlily Gamgee
05-14-2005, 08:19 PM
Wow, a LOTR boot camp. Could I have held up for that at the time I auditioned... probably not... but I have since then started a vigorous diet/exercise program that is kicking my butt into shape. So, slowly but surely, I'm building up endurance and strength. I started this program because I know, as an actor, that I need to be more physically fit and have more agility... and a nicer body wouldn't be too bad either.

Well, at least I know now if I audition again for this what is coming. Thanks for posting that, it was quite interesting.

I can't wait to see this show with it's cast of acting superheroes.

05-14-2005, 08:39 PM
I wonder if there will be an official LotR dentist, just in case stunt accidents have an uncanny way of reoccuring? :( :D

07-27-2005, 11:03 AM
So as much as I cringe at the idea of this musical, at least they've cast a truly great, Tony Award-winning actor to play Gandalf.

I don't intend to see it - unless the rest of the cast is equally superb, but if you want to, you can buy tickets at mirvish.com (http://www.mirvish.com/Subscriptions/2006/Season.html).

11-17-2005, 07:23 AM
Three songs from the stage production of The Lord of the Rings were performed recently at the World Travel Market in London. It's a bit of global theatre marketing, but here's a review which gives a bit of info about some of the production:

Selling a Ticket to Middle-earth (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20051115.wxrings1115/BNStory/Entertainment/)

As a teaser, we are told that the Black Riders arrive by charging through the audience (on stilts) to reach the Shire on stage. Apparently there are CDs with samples of the music from the show. The score has been composed by the Finnish group Varttina and A.H. Rahman and arranged by Christopher Nightingale.

And the marketing wizards are no longer calling this a musical but "a stage adaptation" using music, drama and lavish spectacle.

Hilde Bracegirdle
11-17-2005, 11:33 AM
I have been giving a lot of thought to making the trek up to Toronto to see this production, experiencing the same sort of curiosity that led me to the theater for FotR, a strange mixture of hope and dread. This is a bit different though.

It was just pure dread that governed until lately, for I can not imagine what a 'stage adaptation' would be like, and my initial reaction was, you've got to be joking. Perhaps they were just cashing in on the popularity of the movies. But last month, after a bit of exploration, and listening to samples of Varttina's music, a glimmer of hope is there. I think that they may have made an excellent choice, though Lalwendë, what you have said about producer concerns me.

At present I am planning to attend at some point next year, expecting the worst, of course, as I did with the movie. Hopefully, I will be similarly surprised by the effort. In any case, should I happen to see it before anyone gives their impression of it here, I will definitely let you know my thoughts.

Tigerlily Gamgee
11-17-2005, 05:15 PM
If anyone is interested... The Gathering of the Fellowship (www.gatheringofthefellowship.org) is having a convention next July, and one of their ticket packages includes a ticket to the musical. That's how I'm going to see it.

Hilde Bracegirdle
11-18-2005, 11:37 AM
Now there is a good idea! Interesting guest list too.

11-29-2005, 05:37 PM

This was just put up on the official website. It's little video about the behind the scenes and I admit, the costumes look fantastic and I'm sure the sets will be as well, considering they're designed by the same person. I'm not too sure about the music in the background though. It sounds a little bit too Lion King for my liking.

12-04-2005, 11:51 AM
That trailer looks great. I think this will be a very good production of LoTR. Plus anything put into music well is great. :D

12-06-2005, 08:22 PM
I've spent some time (NOT working on my papers, like I ought to be) exploring the official website and it looks to be interesting, to say the least! My standards are different for theater than for movies, however. There won't be time to make frivolous additions, just major cuts. But, in a staged performance, just the main plot and the spirit of the book are necessary, which is what I'll be looking for. In that aspect, I have a lot of hope for this musical! If only I could feasibly get to Toronto...

12-10-2005, 01:21 PM
Now that I've identified what I want to say... :rolleyes:

The theater should be an experience, more so than the cinema. Going to a show should draw me directly into the world it is trying to portray. This is the major reason why the filmed Phantom of the Opera will never be as good as the staged show (that and the fact that they took out the flaming skulls--who takes out FLAMING SKULLS?). The movie just doesn't have as much capability to draw me into the world, to make me feel as if I myself am in danger when the chandelier comes crashing down. The Lord of the Rings musical doesn't need to be painstakingly faithful to the book. There isn't time. However, it has to feel like Middle-Earth. Otherwise, it won't work.

Tigerlily Gamgee
12-12-2005, 03:44 PM
Agreed. For many of the film musicals lately (Phantom, Rent)... the film just doesn't do it for me. There is something about going to a theatrical production. I almost always get teary eyed when I walk into the theatre and see the world on stage. I'm hoping the LOTR will be the same for me.
In other news... if anyone is going to The Gathering and needs a room... I'm looking for roommates... PM me :-)

01-21-2006, 03:49 AM
To be honest, I balked when I read "Lord of the Rings The Musical". But then I was reminded of when I first heard that disiney was doing "Hunchback of Notre Dame". I balked then too. But It turned out to be a great film! If you think about it - LOTR would lend its self well to an opra-like musical. I say give it a chance. :)

01-31-2006, 07:01 PM
Well, the stage production does not open for some time yet, but the early previews have been moved back to this Saturday from this Thursday. Here's a local news story about the latest hype. The local paper has a great picture of the RingWraiths, which isn't available online, sadly--it's a bit neat to see how they are being depicted.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 Posted at 3:28 AM EST

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

According to the calendar, opening night for the most ambitious theatre project in history -- the $27-million production of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings -- is still seven weeks away.

But for the show's producers, cast and creative team, the March 23 world premiere at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre is only a distant focus of attention.

The date that looms much larger in significance is actually much closer: on Saturday -- the night of the first preview, the first public performance of the three-hour-and-30-minute (with two intermissions) adaptation.

By the sheer cost, scope and audacity of the production -- its unprecedented budget, its epic scale -- producers Kevin Wallace, David Mirvish and Michael Cohl will enshrine their names in the history of commercial theatre, win or lose.


But the reaction of the audience to Saturday's show -- and to 42 other previews scheduled before opening night -- will go a long way toward determining whether the historic citation comes with accolades or demerits.

"I'm really curious to see first the 10 days of previews, and the chemistry of the stage and the audience," says Wallace. "Do they embrace the story and the actors and all the special effects? I want to see how they respond to the totality. If it doesn't work, we will tweak and fine-tune and address moments of weakness. If anything, that's the area we will be in."

Insiders say the preview period, while not decisive, will be a critical indicator of whether the show is a major hit, a middling curiosity or an outright flop. But the early buzz from those few who have penetrated the security cordon set up around rehearsals is positive.

Major theatre names from London and New York have been phoning for tickets. The advance sale has now eclipsed $15-million.

In many ways, the stakes appended to The Lord of the Rings could not be higher.

Financially, dozens of investors and backers, including the province of Ontario and Tourism Toronto, have rolled the dice, with wagers ranging from $10,000 to millions.

Professionally, Wallace and his entire creative team -- director and co-writer Matthew Warchus, co-writer Shaun McKenna, choreographer Peter Darling, designer Rob Howell and composers A. R. Rahman and the Finnish folk ensemble Varttina -- have committed at least two years of their lives and laid their reputations on the line.

For the city of Toronto, battling to regain its status as a major theatre mecca, The Lord of the Rings holds enormous promise. If it succeeds, it will finally erase the stigma left by SARS and the collapse of Garth Drabinsky's Livent empire, and inject millions of dollars in tourism revenues. If it fails, it may be a long time before outside producers decide to build a new show here.

LOTR is a gamble, too, for David Mirvish, the country's leading theatrical producer. He has $1-million of his own money invested and another million through Mirvish Productions. Beyond that, the impresario is testing his "credibility and judgment and what I've chosen to bring" to the marketplace.

It was one thing, he noted in an interview, to persuade the producers of Mamma Mia! to mount a Toronto production of their hit show before taking it to Broadway. "Now," Mirvish said, "we're raising the bar. So what's at stake is changing people's thoughts about where theatre can originate. Usually, it's only done in London or New York. Other cities have tried, but no one has succeeded at what were trying to do. Nothing of this magnitude, certainly. So this could change the equation of how we think about the city and ourselves and what we can do."

As for the creative team, Mirvish says they've been given "an enormous trust" by the Tolkien estate to do justice to the work. Vast resources have been put behind them, "in the belief they will do something extra. It will change all of their lives if they succeed, and they know it. Personally, Kevin Wallace has bet the house on this show. It's everything, his whole life. He has no other interests."

Wallace denies it. He's still as crazy about soccer as he was as a kid growing up in Limerick, Ireland. But "yes," he says, "I have absolutely everything tied up in this and I'm proud of it. I had to put everything in to keep it going because otherwise it would have gone down and I did not want to play safe. We're all sticking our necks out. We want the eyes of the world on us. And we will be remembered as the people who brought Lord of the Rings to the stage, and be judged by audiences and critics accordingly."

And if it fails? Wallace refuses to entertain the idea. "Out of superstition, we just don't go there. Going into battle, you do not entertain defeat. Everything is marshalled for success. You are expecting to be victorious."

But other observers say the stakes may not be as high as they appear. "I actually think it is such a difficult thing to pull off that a failure would not reflect badly on anyone," says Dory Vanderhoof, a Toronto-based cultural consultant. "At worst it will be called a noble effort, a noble failure."

Nor, maintains Vanderhoof, is there any appreciable downside for the city. "If it fails, it won't be Toronto's fault. This is a great theatrical market. It has great audiences and the community has really gotten behind this show."

The Ontario government, others note, has probably already made back in income and sales taxes the $3-million it lent to the production. At a minimum, even if the Princess of Wales is only 70 per cent occupied, the show will run for a year, and generate millions in hotel, restaurant and cab revenues.

And if it works, The Lord of the Rings, may revolutionize the art of stagecraft. "On the Twentieth Century was not great theatre," Vanderhoof says, "but technically it was the most amazing show anyone had ever seen. It changed the way we look at musicals. This show may do that."

Of its $27-million capital cost, about $20-million comes from Canada, the rest from Britain. In a best-case scenario, insiders say, the show could recoup its original investment within 37 weeks. More likely, it will take a year or slightly more. Running costs are expected to run about $1-million a week.

Last week, both Mirvish and Wallace made presentations at a dinner meeting of the Toronto Board of Trade. "I talked about why we came here and not New York," Wallace says, "to remind them of the level of excellence that exists here, but you don't see because it's under your nose. The talent is here. You need to celebrate it."

Mirvish lauded the recent wave of cultural spending on museums, art galleries and opera houses, but noted that the buildings mean nothing until there's something inside them. "Soon, we will have to turn our minds to content."

Mirvish says he is cautiously optimistic that The Lord of the Rings provides the kind of content to which audiences will respond. "I don't want to create too great an expectation. I want people to have their own experience. But it all comes down to the show. For all the toys and special effects, we're still depending on a group of people in their late teens and 20s to whom we've effectively entrusted millions of dollars."

01-31-2006, 07:18 PM
Okay, I found the picture of the actors preparing their RingWraith roles, so here it is. Rumour has it they will be walking down the ailes amongst the audience before taking to the stage.


02-07-2006, 11:01 AM
Here's Michael Posner's article on the preview performance from last Saturday. Article from The Globe and Mail, Monday February 6,2006.

Perhaps the actors in stilts in the picture I posted previously are the Ents. Some time ago, rumours had it that the Black Riders would ride down through the audience towards the stage on some kind of stilt contraption. Who knows what wonders of stage machinery await viewers! And who knows what Tolkien would have made of that kind of machinery. ;)


The critics' reviews are still several weeks away, but for the 2,000 people who constituted the first public audience of the most ambitious theatrical project in history, the verdict Saturday night was a decisive thumbs up.

No matter that the first preview performance of Lord of the Rings -- at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre -- suffered a couple of technical glitches that forced the show to stop for 15 minutes or so. And no matter that, when the curtain finally fell on the $27-million musical adaptation of the classic Tolkien novels, nearly five hours (including 50 minutes worth of intermission, accompanied by drinks and snacks on the house) had elapsed.

Although there were a handful of walkouts when the clock neared 11 p.m., interviews with audience members conducted before, during and after the show -- the Globe and Mail was the only media organization invited to actually watch the show -- suggest that this epic production will go a long way toward satisfying the enormous appetite for the inhabitants of Middle Earth.

"It's a thing of great beauty," said entertainment lawyer Brian Wynn, after the show ended with a standing ovation. "But the world needs to know what the concept is. It's not a musical. It's not a Stratford production. It's somewhere in between. If you come expecting a new Les Miz or Oklahoma -- it's not. But I think they've pulled out the poetry and the themes better than the movies."

"Very good," said Toronto teenager Andrew Buchanan who came with his father and brother. "The length didn't bother me at all. I want to see it again."

"It will be brilliant," said one woman who requested anonymity. "They have work to do, but I think it will be our next Phantom [of the Opera]," the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that ran for 10 years in Toronto. Although the Globe agreed not to review this first preview, it's fair to say that the world created by director Warchus and his creative team is unlike anything anyone has ever seen in conventional commercial theatre before.

The gnarled forests of Middle Earth thrust out to embrace the audience. The automated, cantilevered stage turns, twists, rises, falls and tilts in myriad and extraordinary ways -- at one moment, a winding forest path, the next, a soaring battlefield promontory, while wind and smoke swirl through the auditorium. Menacing orcs leap and tumble like pre-historic Raptors.

A dozen Ents --14-feet-high humanoid trees (actors on stilts) -- conduct a council of the forest.

Frodo and his fellow Hobbits run in fear of the ominous Black Riders. Michael Therriault is Gollum made animate, a writhing, wheezing, gymnastic incarnation of creepiness. The music -- jointly composed by the Finnish folk ensemble Varttina and India's A.R. Rahman -- owes more to opera than musical theatre, an almost continuous score that includes lush ballads, a rollicking drinking number (at the Prancing Pony Inn), a powerful anthem song, as well as the stirring, discordant strains of the battlefield.

Indeed, the show's sets, lighting (designed by Paul Pyant) and special effects (by Graham Meeh and Paul Kieve) were mentioned by many theatregoers as the single most stunning aspect of the production.

New York financier John Halle, who flew up for the preview, said the central question for him was whether audiences would tolerate a show that even at its optimum is scheduled to run three hours and 30 minutes with intermissions. Halle apparently couldn't; he left toward the end of Act II.

"Awesome," said Bruce Lovitz, an emergency room physician from South Carolina who flew up with his eight-year-old son, Carl, for the show. Calling himself "almost the world's biggest fan" of the novels -- he's read each of them every other year for 30 years. "It absolutely meets my expectation. I like the originality of the songs. My concern was that they would borrow too much from the movie versions, but they use just enough. . . . The books are so global -- they encompass the entire human experience, different facets of the human personality. It's a wonderful escape for us on this earth to escape to Middle Earth."

In his pre-curtain remarks to the audience Matthew Warchus explained that this was his second delivery in four weeks. A month ago, his wife had given birth to a Canadian son. "Births can be scary, unpredictable, painful and messy," Warchus said, "but there's nothing like being there at the beginning."

Tigerlily Gamgee
02-10-2006, 05:08 PM
Oh, I've seen the stilt contraptions the Black Riders use... they are friggin' sweet!

03-11-2006, 07:07 AM
Feature from today's Times On-Line:http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,14931-2073645,00.html

03-23-2006, 02:31 PM
Reviewed on BBC Radio Four's 'Front Row'. Doesn't sound too promising :(


In order to hear it click on the 'Listen Live' link (top right) not the 'listen to latest program', as that is still bringing up yesterdays (that should change later tonight or tomorrow). The Listen Live option should bring up the radio player, go down to the Front Row program in the list & click Thursday's program.

If this reviewer is right I'm wondering if its going to make it.....

Estelyn Telcontar
03-23-2006, 03:07 PM
Here are some photos from the musical production: Playbill news (http://www.playbill.com/news/article/98553.html)

Hilde Bracegirdle
03-23-2006, 06:46 PM
An older article from The Star (http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1142722231596&call_pageid=1007643938417&col=1071054618782)

I have some hope that it might be a case of too many changes too fast. But the comments in the BBC spot are troublesome.

The Saucepan Man
03-24-2006, 03:50 AM
Read this review in The Times this morning.

Times Review (http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,14936-2100281,00.html)

The reviewer gives it an impressive four stars and suggests that the dazzling spectacle and magical moments vastly outweigh the few weak points (the performances of Galadriel and Gandalf are noted as the main weak points).

With some fine tuning, this tale could hold its audience in total thrall. For now, its best moments are, like the ring, an intoxicating enchantment. I was very sceptical about this project when it was first announced, but it is now most certainly on my list of things to see, when it comes to the West End next year.

03-24-2006, 03:59 AM
BBC TV news report here - with scenes from the show:


Click 'Watch News in Video', go to Entertainment News & its the top report..

03-24-2006, 05:16 AM
Is Galadriel the one with the white spiky headdress in the BBC news report? Wasn't too impressed with that...and I *loathe* power-ballads (she sings one, according to the TImes review)...other than that I think it looked rather fun.

I agree that the Front Row reviewer didn't make it sound good. But the Times thing was cheery. I'll go when it comes to London, I think. (And look out for a lawyer puffing away feverishly outside in the interval... ;) )
Any more reviews anywhere?

03-24-2006, 07:13 AM
Is Galadriel the one with the white spiky headdress in the BBC news report? Wasn't too impressed with that...and I *loathe* power-ballads (she sings one, according to the TImes review)...other than that I think it looked rather fun.

I'm with you all the way on power ballads (ugh!), but I thought the Galadriel costume looked good, from what I saw - a change on the usual interpretation of her, and the spikiness conveyed power. Someone had clearly been watching Tilda Swinton as the White Witch ;) . I also spotted what looked like a bald Saruman!

Anyone got any links for sites with the costumes on?

03-24-2006, 07:29 AM
Well, the local review is not nearly as forgiving:

Lord of the Rings: Sets shine but this is no jewel

Globe and Mail Update

The Lord of the Rings

Book and lyrics: by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus

Directed: Matthew Warchus

Starring: Brent Carver, James Loye

At the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto

Rating: **

Who says inflation is under control? Nowadays, a budget of $28-million just doesn't buy you the rollicking stage epic it used to.

The Lord of the Rings — the musical adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy that received its world premiere Thursday night — may boast of its record-breaking cost, but it still looks a lot like unfinished business.

The blueprint for the adaptation — a heroic, if misguided, undertaking billed as a hybrid of drama, music and spectacle — is now in place.

All it needs is an engaging storytelling approach, an emotional arc, credible performances and a more coherent musical score.

In other words, what's missing from this adaptation is the essence of theatre itself as that divine place for sharing stories and forging emotional connections between the audience and the performers.

No man, elf or hobbit can compete with Rob Howell's mammoth set design. A rotating platform is just the beginning to a number of configurations that stand in for forests, mountains, caves and castles, all executed with awesome precision. Howell and director Matthew Warchus solve the problems of bringing to stage such fantastical "characters" as talking trees, dark riders and giant scorpions with exemplary resourcefulness.

This is the point in the review where a polite Canadian critic is obliged, given the scale of the show and Toronto's hopes for it as the bedrock of Ontario's "cultural renaissance," to cast the production as a noble failure. Not so fast. Warchus and his book and lyrics co-writer, Shaun McKenna, have been blessed with source material that has two magic theatrical words written all over it: journey and friendship. They waste both.

The journey is that of Frodo (James Loye), the hobbit entrusted with destroying a ring, forged by the Dark Lord Sauron, that has evil powers to destroy Middle-earth. The friendship is between Frodo and Sam (Peter Howe) as they set out to Mount Doom to throw the ring in its flames. The first leg of their journey is accompanied by the "fellowship of the ring," led by Gandalf the Wizard (Brent Carver). The latter leg is overshadowed by Gollum (Michael Therriault), the ring-obsessed former hobbit.

The details are too convoluted to fully get into here — the playbill comes with a 1,500-word, two-page synopsis — and despite massive cuts, the plot overwhelms McKenna and Warchus.

Their adaptation acquires the irritating drone of a speed-typing contest to see how many storylines can be crammed into three one-hour acts. Few, if any, moments are allowed to breathe onstage or hit their philosophical message.

Part of this show is a musical, so you would think the songs could elucidate what the script failed to accommodate. Not here. The singing interludes merely reiterate information easily gleaned from the synopsis or the stilted, faux-epic dialogue preceding them.

A typical example of the production's muddled thinking about music is a show-stopping (in the literal sense) song in Act 2 by Rebecca Jackson Mendoza as Galadriel. It sounds like any other power ballad in any Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The rest of the score, by Indian composer A.R. Rahman and Finland's folk group Varttina, plays like someone has raided the world-music section at Indigo, picking up universal sounds and siren songs and hoping for the best.

The score's constant jumps from ethereal to radio-friendly fracture a production already suffering from patent gaps and cuts. You can almost sniff the glue holding it all together.

All of that would have been less troubling if the cast tackled the material with more fervour and elegance. As played by British actors Loye and Howe, Frodo and Sam are a pair of silly, silly hobbits. It's time for them to move from pastoral comic relief to the maturity entailed in accepting the ring's challenge.

It's very hard for the audience to invest emotionally in comic relief, and their journey therefore loses its mythic and physical powers.

Perhaps, one secretly hopes, our Canadian actors will do better. That feeling evaporates a few scenes into Brent Carver's appearance as Gandalf. This otherwise gifted actor is at best wasted and at worst at a loss. His delivery is rushed, lacking both authority and poise.

The other leading (and leaden) cast members are so underwhelming they might as well have been replaced by holograms. An exception is Therriault's free-spirited Gollum, but even he overplays the character's humour at the expense of its dark side.

Once again, the show is the set. Yet the triumphs of visual representation and conceptual design come at an exacting price since they eat up valuable stage time. They also raise expectations that routinely get dashed in the narrative portions. In a hybrid, each part is supposed to pull its weight, not drag the other down.

What elevated Peter Jackson's screen adaptations into solid works of art, as opposed to merely populist entertainment, was his determination to anchor the epic adventures and the special effects in well-defined relationships and strong acting. In cinematic terms, the latter is achieved with a simple close-up.

Theatre can't compete with film in that way. Nor should it. It can, however, beat celluloid to the punch in immediacy, simple stage effectiveness and direct, unfiltered emotional connections. Unless The Lord of the Rings addresses these issues before it transfers to London's West End, it will remain a pale imitation of the books, the films and, tragically, theatre itself.

Here's the link as there may be stage shots rotating. Current picture is for the Leggie fans: piccies (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060323.lord24nat/BNStory/Entertainment/home)

I've seen a picture of the hobbits in Fangorn Forest. Yes, those stilts are the Ents, and the staging looks wonderful. Word from friends who saw a preview concurs with this local review that the acting is weak, although they said the staging is magnificent.

Can it be? http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y64/MimsyBorogroves/stinker.jpg

03-24-2006, 08:28 AM
An article yesterday about Michael Therriault, the actor who plays Gollem, has his very interesting take on the character. Gollem, Therriault says, is someone not at home with his soul. Interesting stuff here on his preparation for the role. Most reviews say his performance as Gollem is the standout role.

Here's the article:

It's showtime
With the stage premiere of The Lord of the Rings set for tomorrow, MICHAEL POSNER sits down with the show's Gollum, actor Michael Therriault, a Stratford-trained rising star who was born for the theatre

A funny thing happened to Michael Therriault on his journey to Middle-earth. When he auditioned for The Lord of the Rings producer Kevin Wallace and his creative team last summer, the Stratford-trained actor had been reading for the part of Frodo or one of the other Hobbits. Then, on the spur of the moment, he also asked to read for Gollum, the deformed wretch who haunts Middle-earth in search of the one ring. According to Therriault, he read two lines and then had to stop. " 'Sorry,' " he told the assembly. " 'That was horrible.' I was so embarrassed."

But something in those two lines clearly registered. During callback auditions for Frodo, director Matthew Warchus asked him to have another go at Gollum. "They asked me to describe Gollum in a sentence," Therriault, 32, said last week in an interview, "and I said he's like someone not at home with his soul." Then they gave him 15 minutes to work up a physical presentation of that idea. By the end of the day, he pretty much had the role.

"His absolute focus and precision of movement meant that you were instantly engaged right from the moment he went into character," says producer Wallace, recalling that audition. "Michael is very courageous, very conscientious and pushes the boundaries. It was self-evident to everyone in the room that he has that extra quality -- a combination of intelligence, imagination, and the vocal and physical abilities to realize his objectives."

On the eve of the world premiere of the most expensive stage production in history -- the $28-million The Lord of the Rings opens tomorrow night at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre -- this may sound like a producer's standard hyperbole. But having been fortunate enough to see LOTR's first preview performance, it's clear that if the show has a star -- over and above the sheer spectacle of its production -- it's Gollum.

Moreover, when it comes to Therriault, it's very difficult to find comment that is significantly different.

Thus Richard Monette, the Stratford Festival's long-reigning artistic director: "He's astounding. And so versatile. He can do Henry VI and he can do Ariel [The Tempest] and he can do Andrew Aguecheek [Twelfth Night]. He'll come to rehearsal with a dozen different ways of doing things, readings, stage business. And there's absolutely no ego with Michael."

Thus Stratford veteran William Hutt: "I first saw him as Mordred in Camelot in 1997, and he was electrifying." On the basis of that performance, Hutt later told Monette he wanted Therriault to play Ariel to his Prospero in the 1999 production of The Tempest, and urged him to tackle Oscar Remembered, a one-man show -- directed by Hutt -- about Oscar Wilde.

Thus John N. Smith, who directed Therriault in his first major TV role, as Tommy Douglas in the recent CBC-TV miniseries, Prairie Giant: "The kid is so talented. And a phenomenally hard worker. He was so well prepared. He was watching rushes from the first day."

My own nephew, actor Rami Posner, who spent four seasons with Therriault at the festival, calls him "a triple threat. He can sing, dance and act and do it all well. He's the most human, genuine person I've encountered in the industry. I challenge you to find someone to say a negative word about him. And there is no harder working actor. He lives, eats and breathes theatre."

Because rehearsal time at Stratford was always at a premium, Posner and a few other actors formed what they called the Fight Club, otherwise known as the After Hours Club, returning to the theatre in the evenings to continue working on their roles. "When Michael heard about that, he asked if he could join. But whereas we used to go home and eat something and then come back, Michael would stay and rehearse by himself until we arrived, and then after we left at 10, he'd stay and continue working."

The hard work has clearly paid dividends: Seven seasons at Stratford, in increasingly prominent, skill-stretching roles. His Dora Award-winning performance as Leo Bloom in the Toronto production of The Producers. The plum part as Douglas in Prairie Giant. And a five-month sojourn on Broadway as Mottel the tailor in Fiddler on the Roof, opposite Harvey Fierstein and Andrea Martin.

In preparing for Gollum, Therriault naturally read J. R. R. Tolkien's trilogy, and used descriptions of Gollum to lay down the basic physical construct of the character. But he also -- while appearing on Broadway -- sought out modern-dance performances, went to the Lincoln Center dance library and made a binder of images that conveyed the same emotional impact as Gollum, and later hunted down tapes of the experimental British dance company, DV8.

It's a tired cliché to suggest that someone was born for the theatre, but in Michael Therriault's case, it almost seems true. Growing up in Oakville, Ont., son of working-class parents -- his father drove trucks and later worked on the line at Ford, his mother worked with seniors -- Therriault says he knew he wanted to act and sing as early as elementary school. By Grade 6, he says, he had started phoning around on his own, looking for a dramatic-arts school.

When he discovered the Etobicoke School of the Arts in Toronto, his parents were skeptical: It was an hour and a half away in Toronto and they couldn't afford it. But his grade-school principal was so impressed with the young Therriault, he arranged for the board of education to pay a full scholarship, including tuition and transportation costs. "I think I remember saying to my parents, 'I'm going. I have to go.' They couldn't say no."

Later, his mother encouraged him to go into modelling. " 'Mom,' I said, 'have you seen what models look like?' 'But you're so handsome. You look like Gene Wilder.' 'Mom, Gene Wilder used to scare me as a child.' " On graduation, he enrolled in Sheridan College's performing-arts program and soon won an audition to Stratford. (The only other jobs he's held were as busboy and wait staff at the CN Tower, the Second Cup and the Golden Griddle, from which he was fired after a week.) At his callback audition, he performed Mordred's song -- The Seven Deadly Virtues. "It was okay and they said, 'Thanks, Mike.' " But then [choreographer] Tim French, who had seen me in a summer-stock show stood up and said, 'Wait a second. Michael, I'd like you to do that again and do it this way.' I don't think I'd have gotten the part if he hadn't said give it another try."

In his early years at Stratford, the critics were pretty tough on Therriault. "I stopped reading them," he says. "It was really hard. You know when you're not hitting the mark."

But Monette and Hutt, he says, never lost faith. "If it weren't for them, I don't know if I'd have a career. They just believed in me. When The Miser opened in 1998, I got ripped apart. Richard calls me at home and immediately offers me the part of Ariel for the next season. And he'd say, 'You should do this, it would be a real stretch for you.' " It was Hutt who pushed him, reluctantly at first, to tackle Oscar Remembered. Again, Therriault says, not a critical success, "but for me a giant learning curve and in that respect a huge success."

Therriault says he often felt inferior at Stratford because he had not attended the National Theatre School; at times, he contemplated leaving the festival and going back for more training. "You know, we often box ourselves in as actors and as people. But that's such a dangerous thing to do. You're just not giving yourself enough credit."

Despite his success, Therriault leads a Spartan, almost monastic existence. When he changed apartments once, friends offered to rent a truck and move his furniture. "Unnecessary," he told them. "I don't have any furniture." He bought his first bed when the landed his role in The Producers. He recently rented a furnished condo in midtown Toronto, but concedes that he's been living out of a suitcase for the past couple of years. When he lived in New York doing Mottel, he rented a flat in New Jersey and took the shuttle bus into Manhattan for his eight performances a week.

Therriault says he can't see beyond the end of his 18-month commitment to The Lord of the Rings. The seven-month rehearsal process has been exhausting, and he feels ready for opening night. "Bill Hutt told me once that for actors, it's all just play, and the audience is allowed to peek in if they want. That's very freeing. To think, 'I'm just going to indulge myself like a little kid and not worry too much about whether they like it or not.' I'll try to remember that on opening night."

03-26-2006, 10:19 AM
Here's one reply to the less-enthusiastic reviewers:
Sure, hateful cynics, including yours truly, might mock the very idea of plopping Frodo Baggins, Galadriel and Legolas Greenleaf into some poxy musical. And, sure, critics have given the stage version of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings frigid reviews. ("Bored of the Rings," the Toronto Star calls it.) But that don't matter a whit, as long as Tolkien loves the lavish show.

That would be Rachel Tolkien, 35, who Thursday night attended Rings' world premiere in Toronto. At $25 mil, this is billed as the most expensive musical ever. J.R.R.'s granddaughter says the adaptation, by Shaun McKenna and director Matthew Warchus, stays true to the books and is not unduly influenced by Peter Jackson's mega-selling film version.

"The set is incredible, the costumes are beautiful," Tolkien said. "Everything to me that is the most important, and the most moving in the book, they've gotten on the stage."

So, a pox on you critics, and a serious pox on me.

03-28-2006, 01:48 PM
I bet she didn't say gotten... :p but with that endorsement I may try top scrape together enough pennies for a trip to the west end...

Hilde Bracegirdle
03-28-2006, 03:05 PM
I'm scaping already... for Toronto. ;)

03-28-2006, 03:46 PM
I bet she didn't say gotten... :p but with that endorsement I may try top scrape together enough pennies for a trip to the west end...
Newspaper writers do have a way of misquoting people. :D

But yes, I was very, very skeptical of the idea that a musical would work. Now I might see it if the show comes close enough to Philly.

03-28-2006, 04:10 PM
Here in the UK, the Guardian and the Observer, as well as the Times review quoted earlier, quite liked it. The Telegraph did not.



Hmmm...I quite rate the opinions of Charles Spencer (the Telegraph bloke) so now I'm worried if I'm going to like it...

03-29-2006, 06:11 AM
So do I Lalaith but it is quite clear that he doesn't like the book, and probably liked the films as action films blah blah.... I guess he was never going to be into it .. as ahs been discussed elsewhere there is a section of the Literati who dislike Tolkien on principle and othere who genuinely don't get it - and that doesn't stop them having good judgement in other areas ;) . I get the feeling that he is a genuine in his dislike (a don't like rather than a won't like) .. so I don't let him put you off.

Tigerlily Gamgee
03-29-2006, 03:43 PM
If ya'll want to see the musical and have a LOTR packed weekend... check out going to this event in July...

04-07-2006, 09:15 PM
Bit late, but hey. I don't think this article is among the ones posted above.

Quest ends with awe-inspiring live 'Rings' (http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=400626&date=2/12/2006)

Associated Press

Toronto - In two shabby warehouses on the edge of the Don River Valley, a determined, some might say foolhardy, band of theatrical adventurers tries to conquer Middle-earth.

At 185 Eastern Ave., a giant revolve - with 17 lifts - is in place as hobbits and elves scurry up and down the gargantuan steel structure.

Upstairs, a triumphant, majestic melody thunders. A few doors away, at 153 Eastern, the Battle of Mordor rages across a room that could fit a jumbo jet.

Bit by expensive bit, a lavish stage version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" is coming to life.

If Tolkien's three-part saga about that elusive ring is one of those mammoth, legendary adventures, a quest to end all quests, it has nothing on the task of turning the author's lengthy, meticulously detailed world into a piece of theater.

Yet, here it comes - a three-hour-plus adaptation of Tolkien's trilogy. Now in previews for a March 23 opening at the Princess of Wales Theatre, the show has a cast of nearly 60 actors and costs upward of $23 million - and counting.

By comparison, "The Phantom of the Opera," which cost a record $8 million when it opened on Broadway in 1988, would have a $12 million price tag today.

And the production has some unusual financial backing, including the provincial government of Ontario, which has contributed $2.5 million to the show's budget. And if "The Lord of the Rings" is a success here, London's West End and Broadway will beckon.
Started before Jackson

Like all epic journeys, this one began with the tenacious vision of one man - a quiet, unassuming Irishman from Limerick named Kevin Wallace.

This one-time actor found his way into producing after working for Andrew Lloyd Webber, a man who knows a little something about spectacle himself.

Wallace didn't have the original idea for the stage version of "The Lord of the Rings."

A musical adaptation had been floating around since the late 1990s.

It was this take on Tolkien's novels that first sparked his interest, even before the phenomenal success of Peter Jackson's movie trilogy that was released over a three-year period, starting in 2001.

"We're not putting the films on stage. We're putting the books on stage," Wallace says of Tolkien's three novels that chronicle the adventures of Frodo, Sam, Gollum, Gandalf the wizard, Aragorn, Arwen and more.

That draft was created by book writer and lyricist Shaun McKenna, whose eclectic subjects for other shows have included the celebrated Swiss miss Heidi and French painter Toulouse Lautrec.

Written in the late 1990s, this "Rings" musical adaptation "always was about to happen but never did," McKenna says.

Wallace saw McKenna's version in 2001.

Intrigued but not entirely satisfied, Wallace hired Matthew Warchus, who came aboard not only to direct but to co-author the book and lyrics.

Work began in earnest in 2003 after approval had been granted by Saul Zaentz, who owned the film and stage rights to the property.

Their collaboration radically changed the stage "Rings," and with the change came escalating costs.

"It was clearly going to become very big. You can't do 'The Lord of the Rings' with two sticks and a couple of chairs," McKenna says.

If there is one thing this production is not, it is not a musical, Wallace emphasizes. But the show is filled with music - a score supplied by Bollywood composer A.R. Rahman and a Finnish folk group called Varttina.

At one choral rehearsal, the music sounded vaguely operatic as more that two dozen singers lifted their voices in what was an almost fervent prayer.

"Attempts to make a conventional musical out of 'The Lord of the Rings' could only be done by trivializing the novel," says Warchus. Choreographer Peter Darling, who created the dances for the London hit "Billy Elliott," joined after Warchus urged him to listen to a Varttina recording.

"Much of the dancing is based on musical folk ideas," he says.

Darling didn't work closely with the composers, although he knew certain sequences needed to be danceable.

Rob Howell, who designed the sets and costumes, was presented with a very specific challenge: how to do justice to the book while not aping the look of the film or the books' illustrations.

He knew it was impossible to put everything on stage, but consoled himself knowing "there is an acceptance by the audience that they are going to be invited to play with their imaginations."

The stage will not be empty, though.

While trying not to give away too much of what the show will look like, he calls the design "very organic, an environmental production."

The mammoth turntable set - part of some 40 tons of scenery that took more than a year to build - was constructed in England, put together to be tested, then taken apart and sent by ship to Canada for installation.
5-hour preview

The company showcases some of Canada's best actors, including the ethereal Brent Carver, a Tony winner for "Kiss of the Spider Woman," who plays Gandalf.

At the center, though, is an unknown, James Loye, a chipper 26-year-old from Bristol, England, with masses of dark, curly hair and an engaging manner.

Loye plays Frodo, the Hobbit hero, the bearer of the one ring who is at the center of Tolkien's story.

The curtain went up Feb. 4 at the Princess of Wales Theatre for the first public preview of "The Lord of the Rings."

Some 2,000 theatergoers attended the performance, which lasted nearly five hours - including 50 minutes of intermissions and a 15-minute stop for technical glitches, according to the Globe and Mail.

04-07-2006, 09:18 PM
Staged 'Rings' gets grand praise, but not from critics (http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=412394&date=3/31/2006)

Associated Press
Posted: March 31, 2006

Toronto - Though theater critics were tepid in their reviews of the stage version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," the granddaughter of the legendary English author praised it for staying true to his classic tale.

In town late last month for the lavish world premiere at the Princess of Wales Theatre, Rachel Tolkien said she admired the opulent sets and Finnish music and felt the 3 1/2-hour spectacle was a lovely retelling of her grandfather's Middle-earth saga.

"The set is incredible, the costumes are beautiful," said Tolkien, 35, adding that "The Hobbit" was first read to her when she was 6 years old. "Everything to me that is the most important, and the most moving in the book, they've gotten on the stage. I think it's an amazing feat to have made 'The Lord of the Rings' in three-and-a-half hours."

Tolkien, who runs an art gallery in the south of France, said she wondered if her grandfather's story, adapted by Shaun McKenna and director Matthew Warchus, would borrow from the wildly successful film trilogy by Peter Jackson.

"I was just curious to see whether the film would influence the flavor of the stage set, and I don't think it did," she said. "I think it's quite different and original."

Some critics said it was too different and original for the audience to comprehend.

The New York Times called the production "a murky, labyrinthine wood from which no one emerges with head unmuddled, eyes unblurred or eardrums unrattled."

The Toronto Star dubbed it "bored of the Rings," and Associated Press theater critic Michael Kuchwara called the production "a case of imagination overwhelmed by complexity."

Billed as the most expensive musical ever at $25 million, Toronto is pinning its hopes on the show revitalizing the city's beleaguered theater industry, which has never fully recovered from the SARS outbreak in the spring of 2003. The city lost an estimated $1 billion in tourism dollars, after 44 people died of the respiratory syndrome.

The Sixth Wizard
04-22-2006, 04:23 PM
I'm a bit biased, I mean, what would Tolkien say?

04-28-2006, 03:25 PM
I have wonderful news!! The Performing Arts students in my school will have the wonderful opportunity to go see the musical this fall!! I can't wait!! This is going to be the experience of a lifetime!!

Tigerlily Gamgee
05-24-2006, 11:10 AM
In less than two months I'll be able to give my personal review.
I'm on the committee for The Gathering of the Fellowship as the Stage Liason... so, I'm hoping that I'll get an up close and personal view of it. I can't wait to see it... I just can't wait for my vacation, really.
Anyone else going to The Gathering?

06-28-2006, 11:29 AM
This just in, posted on the Toronto Star website:

Lord of the Rings musical to close September 3rd and reopen in London next May (http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1151490012778&call_pageid=968332188492&col=968793972154)

There go plans to see it in late September with some Downers. I suppose I can hustle and get summer tickets though. Sort of like, I walked the decks of the Titanic before it sailed. :(

06-28-2006, 11:35 AM
I understand that The Dominion is the only suitable theatre for this in London, so it must mean that We Will Rock You is moving on. I wonder if the truth is that they've just been waiting for this to happen?

06-28-2006, 11:58 AM
Well, it came to Toronto with strong government and business support only after the suitable London theatres were not available, although now Toronto looks a bit like an entire preview run. It is a huge production. The Princess of Wales theatre has something over 35 stage elevators just to handle the sets.

It is sad for the theatre and arts community here. It would have been great for local actors, dancers, everyone in theatre here, had the show been successful. I suppose I'll be seeing Wicked this fall now instead. And then there's an incredible production of The Magic Flute, presented in baroque style dance and staging... oh, sorry, off topic... :(

I did see a fabulous Hobbit here at a children's theatre, but that wasn't a musical.

Estelyn Telcontar
06-28-2006, 12:31 PM
What horrible timing! I wanted to see it in mid-September; couldn't they wait just two weeks?! Oh well, London's not far, so if I can get bargain flight prices, I'll go see it there...

06-29-2006, 08:28 AM
According to today's news stories in The Globe and Mail, Lal, the mega-not-quite-a-musical is moving to the "Theatre Royal Drury Lane" according to the front page story by Kate Taylor, former theatre critic.

Here's a post mortem by the Globe's theatre critic, who of course was one of the initial nay-sayers and so who is going to defend his position after yesterday's complaints that once again the local critics were harsher than the Brit crits. (Actually, this is a recurrent thread in Canadian cultural life, that local always gets a harsher view than imports. Colonial insecurities still.)

The Lord of the Rings CANCELLED
As the panned Toronto production breathes its last gasp, KAMAL AL-SOLAYLEE analyzes what went wrong, and if prospects might change across the Atlantic

For the last few weeks, the question that most theatregoers in Toronto were asking was not if The Lord of the Rings would close, but when. We now at least have an answer: Sept. 3.

Now, let the real questions begin. Why did it close so early after all the excitement that greeted news of its arrival? What failed in its marketing as the guiding light of Toronto's cultural renaissance? How will it fare in London, its "spiritual home," to use producer Kevin Wallace's words, when it opens next June at the Drury Lane Theatre?

Did the Toronto critics, as Wallace suggested in one of his mixed messages at yesterday's press conference, really kill the show's momentum and, if so, is their non-British theatrical sensibility the reason they (and most other North American reviewers) didn't "get" it? The British critics who flew to Toronto for the March 23 opening, Wallace continued, loved it -- a statement that conveniently ignored one of the most acerbic reviews The Lord of the Rings received at the hands of the very British Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph.

While there are many questions and almost as many people to blame (at least in Wallace's mind), the real explanation for the show's demise is simple: It failed to connect with audiences on a deeper level than the visual. Despite some innovative stagecraft, The Lord of the Rings, in the version critics saw at least, was a hollow, lifeless affair with no real emotional pull to the storytelling, the music or the acting. The story itself proved confusing to anybody not familiar with J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy of books. Not even the lengthy synopsis in the program was of much help.

Too much time and energy have gone to the logistics of the adaptation and not nearly enough on its emotional life.

Although Wallace insisted that his market research indicated that nine out of 10 audience members would recommend The Lord of the Rings to their friends, effectively bypassing critical opinion, he and the rest of the producers failed to translate that into a critic-proof phenomenon. Most audience members were literally not buying it. On Broadway as in the West End, many, many musicals (The Phantom of the Opera comes to mind) survive critical drubbings and evolve not just into success stories but social phenomena.

I also believe the marketing of the show was muddled and of no help to audiences who were tempted but needed that final push to get them to part with up to $125 a ticket. From the show's logo to its embarrassing advertising campaigns -- remember the "Reach for the Ringtone (My Precious)" posters on the subway? -- the advertising always suggested a production that's still experimenting with its identity and how to project that identity to the world.

Ultimately, the Toronto production was the very expensive out-of-town tryout for The Lord of the Rings. Tryouts are all about trial and error. In taking the show to London, Wallace will probably also take some valuable lessons on how not to produce megamusicals in the future. (Lesson one: Call it a megamusical.)

I suspect the London run will fare significantly better, partly because the British may look more favourably on a work created by their own, but mainly because the production itself will likely evolve and improve before it opens there or pitches other tents in Europe. We wish it well, but we also have to acknowledge that, despite all talk to the contrary, little Toronto was just a stand-in for big London.

Gee, isn't that last bit what I said yesterday? And they don't pay me what they pay this guy! ;)

EDIT: the theatres

Drury Lane (http://www.thisistheatre.com/londontheatre/drurylanetheatre.html)

Princess of Wales theatre (http://www.mirvish.com/OurTheatres/Princess.html)

07-01-2006, 11:42 AM
A report today in the Globe claims that there are plans for a German production of the show for 2008. Won't Sharkey be happy!

Gollum to follow Rings to London
Canadian actor earned acclaim portraying a sad creature obsessed with his 'precious'

Canadian actor Michael Therriault, acclaimed for his role as the darkly amusing, deeply psychotic Gollum, is among the cast members being asked to join the stage production of The Lord of the Rings when it moves from Toronto to London.

Casting hasn't been finalized and full auditions won't start in London until the fall. But a casting announcement for some of the lead roles could come in September as the producers prepare to stage Rings at London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane, opening May 7.

When asked about Mr. Therriault continuing as Gollum, producer Kevin Wallace confirmed by phone from London that "you would be right to speculate that I would be having a conversation with him."

Mr. Therriault, who grew up in Oakville, Ont., recently won a Dora Mavor Moore Award for the physically demanding role as the ring-obsessed creature. Spitting lines on stage night after night since The Lord of the Rings began previews in Toronto in February, Mr. Therriault has been consistently praised as a showstopper.

As announced this week, the Toronto production will close Sept. 3. Although the $28-million show hasn't continuously attracted sell-out crowds in Toronto as hoped, another reason for the closing date is to allow enough time to transport the heavy, elaborate stage and sets to England to be reworked and fitted into the Drury Lane theatre.

The London production is expected to take on an even more British flavour. The cast will be mostly local actors, in large part because of British actors' union rules. However, many of the leads in the Toronto production have been played by British actors, including James Loye as hobbit hero Frodo. Mr. Wallace said discussions with some of the Canadian cast will start this summer and a few actors and stunt people could remain with the production.

A similar situation will occur in Germany, with a predominantly German cast playing most of the parts, when a third production of Rings is staged in that country beginning in 2008. The actual city has yet to be announced, Mr. Wallace said, because the arrival of Rings in Germany will mark the departure of another production, and those involved don't want to make that publicly known yet.

Child of the 7th Age
07-06-2006, 10:15 AM
Sorry to hear this. I was hoping for a great success eventually followed by a touring company.

It's interesting... We rant and rave at PJ (myself included), but the one thing he could certainly do was put bodies in the seats. Admittedly, it's a far cry from a mass market movie audience to a $120 ticket for a stage show. But, whatever the medium, any work of art must have an audience.

I just wonder how much of this "failure" was the difficulty that JRRT identified--the problem of condensing such a long tale into a single production. So far I can't remember a single instance of the LotR being successfully adapted into a single film or play. If anyone else can, please let me know. Even Ralph Bakshi ended up truncating the production, ostensibly for monetary reasons.

Thanks Bb for passing on this news. Even before I read this post, I noticed on e-bay that a few folk were "dumping" their memorabilia from the play. I just don't have a good feeling about the long range fate of this production, but I hope I am wrong.

Tigerlily Gamgee
07-27-2006, 04:07 PM
Ok, so I saw the musical about a month ago... and here's my shortish SPOILERISH review:

Hobbits: The Hobbits were handled the best out of any of the characters. They took some time in the beginning to set up a little background about them and to give you a good idea of what kind of people they were. Their spirit and care free nature was well shown. Frodo and Sam's relationship didn't get explained much in the beginning, but they were the best represented characters in the whole musical. In Mordor they had a great song about that tied into the part in the book where they are talking about the great stories and wondering if they'll ever be in one. It had a sweet melody and great lyrics... I got teary... they tied Gollum into it well, too, and showed how he used to be a Hobbit. Merry and Pippin were ok, but rushed. However, when they first joined up with Frodo and Sam they all had a great traveling song to the theme of "The Road Goes Ever On and On." Merry and Pippin did meet Treebeard, and the Ents were sort of cool, but their time on stage was brief. One thing that made fans happy too... The Scouring... it was there... but Bill Ferny played the role that Wormtongue would've otherwise played.

Elves: The second best represented. Lothlorien was great in that the whole Fellowship was blind folded (for Gimli's sake)... which was left out of the movies. Galadriel, however, was odd... it was mainly her costume. She had a lovely song about Lothlorien, though... but I think it was a wee bit too long. Arwen was handled nicely... in fact, I think the romance between her and Aragorn showed better in the musical than it did in the movie. I got teary from that too!

Men: The world of men was poorly handled. Aragorn was underdeveloped, Boromir was kinda of one dimensional, Theoden had no depth, Eowyn was there but they didn't mention any relevance to the fact of her killing the Withcking, Faramir and Denethor were non existant because they never went to Gondor. There was only one battle that was kind of a combination of Helm's Deep and the Black Gates. It was handled ok, but still... no depth.

Technical stuff: The puppetry was great! Shelob was handled very well... the Black Riders were awesome looking... The Balrog had nice effects, but had it not been for the effects I think it would've looked like a giant pinata.

Other characters: I didn't like Gandalf. Brent Carver is a fine actor and I've always wanted to see him in something, but he wasn't Gandalf... but I could've told you that when he was first announced as being cast in that role. Legolas and Gimli were just there because they sorta had to be... nothing much about them.

That's it, in a nutshell... I'll be happy to answer any questions anyone has about it.

08-06-2006, 01:07 PM
I notice that the book of the stage show is published tomorrow.

here (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0007219083/sr=8-6/qid=1154891153/ref=sr_1_6/026-9662650-0200464?ie=UTF8&s=gateway)

12-24-2006, 10:22 AM
yesterday when my darling god-daughter showed me her birthday present form her uncle which was a pair of tickets for the first night in London and said "Do you want one of these?"

I think youcan guess the answer.... :D

12-24-2006, 11:14 AM
yesterday when my darling god-daughter showed me her birthday present form her uncle which was a pair of tickets for the first night in London and said "Do you want one of these?"

I think youcan guess the answer.... :D

Now that's an interesting Christmas present! When is it on?

and Merry Christmas!

12-24-2006, 11:33 AM
9th of May .. I thinkI am more excited than she is..... also very touched she asked me rather than a friend of her own age .....was well worth taking her to the LOTR exhibition whan it was on....

12-24-2006, 12:18 PM
9th of May .. I thinkI am more excited than she is..... also very touched she asked me rather than a friend of her own age .....was well worth taking her to the LOTR exhibition whan it was on....

You cannot surely be suggesting that this caused her to invite you?

No, seriously that's lovely! And you'll get to see the stars if its the first night! Eeek! Wardrobe crisis, eh?! What an excuse to go shopping too! :)

12-24-2006, 12:23 PM
You cannot surely be suggesting that this caused her to invite you?

No, seriously that's lovely! And you'll get to see the stars if its the first night! Eeek! Wardrobe crisis, eh?! What an excuse to go shopping too! :)

Well she thought it would mean most to me...which is so sweet .... and it would be be cynical to think that though her GF is also sending a contribution to the cost of a hotel that taking me rather than a friend means that there is a good cahnceI will pay for everything else ... ;

Oh I have the clothes .... it is just the opportunities tp wear them I lack - wonder if it will be too warm to wear my gold GHOST opera coat ..it is preview ..Paul did try for red carpet night but couldn't get tickets... that might have overloaded my circuits.. ;)

12-24-2006, 12:29 PM
Well she thought it would mean most to me...which is so sweet .... and it would be be cynical to think that though her GF is also sending a contribution to the cost of a hotel that taking me rather than a friend means that there is a good cahnceI will pay for everything else ... ;

Oh I have the clothes .... it is just the opportunities tp wear them I lack - wonder if it will be too warm to wear my gold GHOST opera coat ..it is preview ..Paul did try for red carpet night but couldn't get tickets... that might have overloaded my circuits.. ;)

Yes that would be very cynical!

Of course, it would be worth buying 'everything else' to be one of the first. And I trust you will give us a full and honest review too...

12-24-2006, 12:44 PM
Indeed.... though I am hoping there won't be a load of technical glitches since it it the first night... it was quite funny cos I was so excited and my GD is saying motherly type things such as "it is several months away..." Definitely acting my shoe size not my age...

03-23-2007, 11:19 AM
I was sent this link by John Lewis (a UK department store chain, for those who don't know!) for a special offer/showing of the musical.
I can't go as I'm away on holiday but perhaps other Downers might be interested?

03-23-2007, 12:38 PM
I was sent this link by John Lewis (a UK department store chain, for those who don't know!) for a special offer/showing of the musical.
I can't go as I'm away on holiday but perhaps other Downers might be interested?

And it seems like the LotR Official Stage Companion will finally see the light in May http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lord-Rings-Official-Stage-Companion/dp/0007219083/ref=sr_1_1/026-3247634-6064465?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1174675061&sr=8-1

Sauron the White
03-29-2007, 10:19 AM
Here is to hoping that the London version learned from the mistakes of the Toronto version. I saw this a year ago and very good seats in the ninth row center. Was captivated by the way they turned the entire front of the theater into a set mimicing the woods. No complete review here--- BUT --- really bad idea to take a 1200 page book and try to do it in three hours on stage. It seemed so rushed and telescoped. And the actor who was Gandalf was horrid and no gravitas of any kind. It was like the role was handed to a high school kid who was trying to play a senior citizen merely with the aid of make-up. I liked what they did with Galadriel but not the orcs who were on some type of prostetic walkers. Boromir was pretty bad and Aragorn nearly invisible. Some of the special effects such as the big balrog puppet were great as were the Ents. But rather much of a let down.

04-07-2007, 02:38 AM
Nice footage of the show here. I'm actually impressed by the look of it


04-20-2007, 12:23 PM
Interview with Galadriel


04-21-2007, 08:38 AM
Nice footage of the show here. I'm actually impressed by the look of it


Wow. I have to agree, I'm positively impressed by this. I didn't expect a lot from the musical, and this is a lot more than i expected already.

04-21-2007, 08:56 AM
Nice footage of the show here. I'm actually impressed by the look of it


Hmmm. Hooom. Let's not be hasty.

I'm inclined to think that footage is from the Toronto production, not the London production, although I could be wrong.

In the footage, Gandalf looks very much like Brent Carver, who played Gandalf (with surprisingly disappointing results, as Carver is an esteemed actor) in Toronto. Galadriel also appears to have the Toronto hairdo rather than the one in the design sketch given in davem's other link.

04-21-2007, 09:01 AM
Interview with Galadriel

Blimey o'Reilly. What *is* she wearing?

04-27-2007, 10:40 AM
More - with lots of pix


05-07-2007, 01:32 PM
Less than 2 days to go .. and I have to say ..Legolas looks rather more as I envisigaed him pre - film... (not that Orli looked bad.. just I never imagined Legolas as a platinum blonde...). Hotel is booked.. chosen a train .. just need to fnd my posh frock :D

05-09-2007, 11:14 AM




05-10-2007, 05:52 AM
I will give my review tomorrow - have to get to work .. but it was fantastic ... few very minor quibbles are quite unterstandable in context of the form. I thought it was an intelligent adaptation and the special effects showed that "smoke and mirrors" can be more effective than CGI..... the balrog aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Gothbogg the Ripper
05-10-2007, 07:37 PM
A musical eh? What a joke, I fail to see what that can contribute. A graphic novel maybe, a stand-up comedy routine possibly, a brand of poison feasibly but a song-and-dance crapfest? Not on your life. It makes a mockery of Tolkien's work and these clowns should be driven into the desert and left with the vultures. Bunch of lowlife charlatans. Yes, I said crapfest and whoever criticised me for it will have to live with it because I don't plan on removing what I said you no-talent commoner! That is just how much i am opposed to a musical based on LOTR. Don't you see? They are laughing at us! At all of us! They think we're a bunch of dorks and rubes! A bunch of idiots who'll shell out to see a homoerotic display of deviance involving lycra and a candlelit dinner between Sam and Frodo. You, cowardly complainer, may be content to prostitute your dignity but some of us are more reserved. SOME of us don't buy into everything with The Lord of The Rings plastered all over it, some of us have backbone and common sense and realise what works and what should be taken out back and shot in the base of the spine. Do you? Maybe, maybe not but understand that this musical nonsense irritates me terribly and if I offended you then you need to grow up. What are you? A child? Want braids sweetheart? A nice pink dress? "Oh! The big man said a bad word! Run for the hills!" Well I'm sorry but I refuse to be pleasant about the bastardization of Tolkien. it's low and degenerate and all self-respecting fans will boycott this for the pompous excrement it is.

Child of the 7th Age
05-10-2007, 10:59 PM

I'll be interested to hear your reaction.

05-10-2007, 11:33 PM

05-12-2007, 05:21 AM
It is hard to know where to start in describing an evening of sensory overload and I am finding it true that the first step is the hardest to make. I haven't been to a musical for many years (and that was the relatively straight forward "Me and my girl" so I am probably a bit out of touch with the developments technologically - though I am aware of "Miss Saigon"'s helicopter and The flying of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", but I was awestruck by the set and the special effects. The proscenium arch seemed to be covered in tree roots (like the musical logo) and with changing lighting this served to represent the rural idyll of the Shire, the other worldiness of Lothlorien and the more menacing environments.

Most of the stage was taken up with an incredibly versatile turntable stage that had steps that rose and fell as relentlessly as an Escher drawing and combined with some clever choreography and music helped to create a sense of journey much more effectively than in the film (FOTR particularly).

I don't get to the theatre as much as I'd like and this was a brilliant reminder of how much more engaging it is to be at a live show than sitting, gawping in a multiplex surrounded by people who can't last a couple of hours without food (what is worse the constant chomp of popcorn or the shorter strain on the ear but lingering assault on the olefactory system of the burger? A dinky bottle of champagne at the interval was sustaining and far more civilised (and compared to what they charge for soft drinks at my local cinema, not actually that extravagant!). But I digress.

Although we took our seats promptly there were already hobbits wandering around the auditorium gossiping and bickering. They were rather more like Tolkien's own descriptions and pictures of Bilbo than the film creations - fatter of tummy, curlier of hair, rosier of cheek. I am not a huge hobbit fan but I found them enchanting. One thing they weren't were "halflings" - and were not referred to as such. They were noticeably short but not half sized compared to the elves and humans. Gimli may have been shorter and had a rather squeaky voice. I think the extreme physicality of the production meant that maximising the height difference would have been impossible. The fight sequences were extremely balletic/ acrobatic and I can't imagine the extremely lanky managing them elegantly. Nevertheless the hobbits were distinct as small people.

They were also distinctly rustic - more West Country than Warwickshire - and this included Frodo, Merry and Pippin who were not noticeably higher class than Sam (thought Sam remained the Gardener). I think that was fair enough - to have class distinctions as well as the many racial one would have muddied the waters unnecessarily. However it was a bit of a shock to hear Frodo sounding like he came from Zummmerzet.

Similarly it was a surprise that the wandering elves appeared like an angelic host - however again if you have humans playing non humans you have to ring the changes somehow and I think it was fine in context .


05-12-2007, 10:10 AM

Estelyn Telcontar
06-01-2007, 08:18 AM
Can any of you give me information on where and how to order tickets for the musical - and how difficult it is to get them? I would love to catch this in London before or after Oxonmoot in September!

06-01-2007, 08:27 AM
Booking info here: http://www.lotr.com/prices.php

Be careful what seat you get - those in the front 2 rows need to watch out for blood spatter & mangled limbs:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6707791.stm :eek:

The Saucepan Man
06-01-2007, 08:34 AM
Esty, I have always found that the easiest way to book tickets for London shows is through one of the on-line booking agencies (for example, See, which is linked to in the link that davem provided). You have to pay a small surcharge, but its usually straightforward, painless and quick. You can also often click on the map of the theatre to see where the seats on offer are.

It's worth shopping around, though (I usually simply Google something like "London tickets"). Prices can vary (due to the variable booking fee) and, if one agency doesn't have tickets on the day you want, others still may.

Estelyn Telcontar
06-01-2007, 08:45 AM
Thanks for the information! Yes, if I'm going to plan a trip well in advance, I will order tickets in advance to be sure I get them for the day I want to have them. What I haven't been able to find is a map of the theatre to see where the stalls, dress circle, upper circle, etc. are located and which is best for seeing. Those of you who have been there, what's best? I'm not going to fuss over a few pounds difference - it's usually worth it to get closer to the experience (except for the blood spatter, of course! :eek: ). I want to be able to see and hear everything.

06-01-2007, 11:59 AM
I must say to counter some of the negative comments this musical has received, that I found it to be fantastic. However one must approach it with an open mind remembering that this is another medium, the artwork portrayed by various artists deviates from the descriptions Tolkien gives in his work, the BBC Radio play deviated from the book, the films of both Baksi and Jackson also deviated from the book, the musical is just another interpretation. I say all this as a reader of Tolkiens works for over forty years, I am no film fan (though I enjoyed them greatly), nor am I overly fond of Everything with Lord of the Rings plastered all over it, but I pronounce judgement once I have experienced the offending articles and not by denouncing without knowledge of the said thing. I can understand peoples apprehension of something that says Musical after it, and that this can bring to bear preconceived ideas on the subject, but this is the same as Germaine Greer saying she hates The Lord of the Rings without reading it.

06-02-2007, 08:22 AM
Just bought the Official Stage Companion in my local Waterstones. All looks very impressive....

Sauron the White
06-04-2007, 01:33 PM
Is there anyone here who both saw the play in Toronto and the current one in London? I did see the one in Toronto and did not like it very much and actually found much of it to be something close to a laughable satire. Are there noticable differences in this production?

Gothbogg the Ripper
06-08-2007, 09:27 AM
I must say to counter some of the negative comments this musical has received, that I found it to be fantastic. However one must approach it with an open mind remembering that this is another medium, the artwork portrayed by various artists deviates from the descriptions Tolkien gives in his work, the BBC Radio play deviated from the book, the films of both Baksi and Jackson also deviated from the book, the musical is just another interpretation. I say all this as a reader of Tolkiens works for over forty years, I am no film fan (though I enjoyed them greatly), nor am I overly fond of Everything with Lord of the Rings plastered all over it, but I pronounce judgement once I have experienced the offending articles and not by denouncing without knowledge of the said thing. I can understand peoples apprehension of something that says Musical after it, and that this can bring to bear preconceived ideas on the subject, but this is the same as Germaine Greer saying she hates The Lord of the Rings without reading it.

So, can I assume by this that it was you who left me that message?

06-09-2007, 12:26 AM
Sorry Gothbog I don't know what message, I always leave my name on everything I write, have you had a Negrep?, if so it wasn't me.

06-09-2007, 12:48 AM
Halfir over on the Plaza pointed me toward this review by Angie of Daeron's Books


I'd like to go see the thing. I've been very inpressed by the pictures & video clips I've seen, & am eagerly awaiting the recording.

That said, in my heart I'd have preferred something smaller, which could tour. I have a yearning for something along the lines of the Mystery Plays.

Estelyn Telcontar
06-09-2007, 01:15 AM
Thanks for sharing that review, davem! I am in the process of convincing someone else to join me for Oxonmoot and the musical, and this should help! (No, I won't divulge a name yet - when all is decided, that person can announce it h/self. ;) )

06-09-2007, 09:32 AM
Those of you who have been there, what's best? I'm not going to fuss over a few pounds difference - it's usually worth it to get closer to the experience (except for the blood spatter, of course! :eek: ). I want to be able to see and hear everything.

I sat in the stalls and so we had hobbits wandering around at the beginning catching fireflies and orcs rushing around later on - youreally are in the thick of it down there. Our tickets were Ł50 per skull but sinceI wasn't paying I don't know if that was less because it was preview or more becasue it was first night. I was in the centre of the centre bloc of stalls seats. I'll check the ticket if that would help.

You certainly get the full impact of the SEF at that level - the balrog was incredible - far scarier than the film - you literally feel the heat ! - but it is not a huge theatre and I know Kath who was higher up still enjoyed it - and also couldn't tell how they made Frodo disappear. And it is not a barn of a theatre. Much more intimate than I expected.

I think they have lost half an hour and Eowyn from the TOronto show.

Rohan and Gondor and Theoden and Denethor are amalgamated in to the Lands of Men and its Steward. Yes I know some of you might have spat your coffee at that and I know it is against what Tolkien wanted for a film but it does make sense - otherwise youahve two threatened lands with rulers under a malign influence who have just lost their sons at the moment of appearance - and in a 3hr production something has to give. I cetainly found this condensing more respectful and true to the spirit than some of Jackson's changes.

And there is much that the musical has retained that the film lost... Gildor (for some reason female and called Elranien (wandering elf), Glorfindel - also a girl and horseless (the Black riders wer amazing but htere is a limit ;) ), the scouring of the Shire. Even Bomabadil gets a mention.
The only thing I found slightly bizarre and would change is the fact that the Elves seem to use sign language when talking to mortals as if they are incapable of understanding speech but I guess youdid have to make the elves "different" - while like enough for the Aragorn / Arwen thing to work. I would also have given Elrond's costume less "bling" - but again when you consider some of what they made poor darling Hugo wear in the films ....

I liked the fact that Legolas was far less of a pretty boy (and dark haired!), Boromir sounded extremely Scottish and his horn was very impressive. I also liked how they used things that we know happened but didn't see in the books to make sense of the hobbits surviving to rivendell against the odds (the activity of the Rangers of the North and Gildor alerting the wandering companies).

While they didn't use any of Tolkien's poems the songs were clearly inspired by them - the road going on noticably. I also think they handled the balance between light and dark very well, and though the scary bits were scary they were either followed by and interval (Balrog) or a lighter moment. For this reason, I would have thought it would be an excellent thing to take children too if you wanted them to get a taste of the power of a live show. Not very tiny ones and maybe to a matinee but I would reckon it far less potentially disturbing than the films.

Finally I must mention Gollum. Deagol swims down on to grasp the ring and gollum climbs down a cliff face head first - it is stunning.

..I really want to go again.

PS I found out that my actor cousin auditioned for Frodo in Toronto but was too tall....

06-09-2007, 09:39 AM
Oh and Esty - you may find that you can get a deal on hotel + tickets if you need accommodation as well.

I was very glad we had booked a hotel round hte corner when my beloved god daughter (who had given me and old fashioned look when I asked if she had the tickets on the train) realised she had left them in her over-night bag.... :rolleyes:

06-20-2007, 02:38 PM
There is a review on Front Row today (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/progs/listenagain.shtml)

07-12-2007, 11:30 AM
And potentially offers a very good deal for out of towners who want to see the show and stay in town: