The Lord of the Rings (theatre)

The Lord of the Rings (theatre)

:"This article is about the theatrical productions. For other uses, see The Lord of the Rings (disambiguation)".

"The Lord of the Rings", an epic high fantasy novel by the British author J. R. R. Tolkien, set in his world of Middle-earth, has been adapted several times for the musical theatre. The musicals tell the tale of a humble hobbit who is asked to play the hero and undertake a treacherous mission to destroy an evil, magic gold ring without being seduced by its power. Though sometimes described as "musicals", no adaptor(s) of either version (Bowden/Goers in Cincinnati or Warchus/Rahman/Värttinä in Toronto/London) characterized their productions as musical theatre. Indeed, both versions were specifically noted to be "theatrical adaptations with vital musical elements", but not with the structure of a musical, "per se".

Cincinnati Version productions

Full-length stage musical adaptations of each of "The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001), "The Two Towers" (2002), and "The Return of the King" (2003) were produced in Cincinnati, Ohio. The first production suffered from poor funding and was not successful. The sequels, however, were well received by audiences and critics alike. All three adaptations were written by Blake Bowden, with music by Grammy Award nominee Steve Goers. Aretta Baumgartner directed the puppetry work and was awarded a Cincinnati Entertainment Award for her portrayal of Gollum. Huge puppets were created by Carus Waggoner, currently of Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. Bowden portrayed Sam Gamgee and Joe Sofranko played Frodo Baggins. The latter two productions were directed by actor, director, and fight choreographer Gina Cerimele-Mechley. "The Return of the King" was produced as the inaugural production of Clear Stage Cincinnati and was presented at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. All three productions were endorsed by The American Hobbit Association and approved by Tolkien Enterprises. The French documentary, "Le Seigneur des Anneaux: De l’Ecrit a l’Ecran" (2003), featured clips from backstage, the audience, and several scenes from "The Return of the King." Produced by La Jolla Productions, it aired in Europe on Canal+ in the fall of 2003.

Kevin Wallace Version Productions


London-based theatre producer Kevin Wallace and his partner, Saul Zaentz — stage and film rights-holder and producer of the animated film version of 1978 — in association with Toronto theatre-owner David Mirvish and concert promoter Michael Cohl, produced a stage musical adaptation with a book and lyrics written by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus, and music by A. R. Rahman and Värttinä, collaborating with Christopher Nightingale.

The three-and-a-half hour long three-act production, with a cast of 65 actors, was mounted in Toronto, Canada, at the Princess of Wales Theatre, at a cost of approximately C$30 million (US$26.9 million). It was promoted as a spectacle of unusual scale. It starred Brent Carver as Gandalf and Michael Therriault as Gollum, and was directed by Warchus and choreographed by Peter Darling, with set and costume design by Rob Howell. The production began performances on February 4 2006 and had its press opening on March 23 2006, the day before its gala premiere. It received mixed to poor notices from the press. [cite web|author =Brantly, Ben|date=March 24, 2006| url=| title=Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings,' Staged by Matthew Warchus in Toronto| work=The New York Times|accessdate=2006-06-14] [cite web|date=March 25, 2006| url=| title=Mixed reviews for 'Lord of the Rings' musical (in Toronto)| work=CBC|accessdate=2006-06-14] The production closed on Sept. 3, 2006, at a loss.

The musical adaptation became somewhat of a joke among Torontonians after it closed after just five months of production, and inspired the Toronto Fringe Festival production "The Lord of the Rings: The Musical: The Musical!", by Ben King and Nicholas Hune-Brown, which poked fun at Kevin Wallace, theater mogul David Mirvish and Toronto mayor David Miller for giving the show the green light. ["Lord of the Rings: The Musical: The Musical!"'s official website:] Despite this, the show was nominated for 15 Dora Awards, winning 7, including "Outstanding New Musical" and awards for direction, design and choreography.


The slightly shortened (still three-hour) and significantly re-written show began previews at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on May 9, 2007, with its official premiere June 19, 2007, one of the longest previewing periods ever. The same creative team as the Toronto production was involved in the London production. This production featured a cast of 50 actors and reportedly cost £12 million (approximately US$25 million) [Different sources have put the cost of the production as anywhere between £7 million and £25 million. The confusion seems to come from conversions to and from US dollars.] , making it one of the most expensive ventures ever produced in the West End, or indeed, anywhere outside Las Vegas.

On May 31, 2007, it was reported that preview performances had been suspended after a cast member (Adam Salter) caught his leg in the moving stage and was taken to hospital during the performance of the evening of May 30. [cite web | title="Rings musical halted by accident | url= | publisher=BBC News| date=2007-05-31 ] Performances resumed on June 2.

The London production, starring London's original Mary Poppins, Laura Michelle Kelly, as Galadriel, Michael Therriault as Gollum, and Jérôme Pradon as Aragorn, received mixed reviews." The Times" called it "a brave, stirring, epic piece of popular theatre", but while the Toronto version was dubbed "Bored of The Rings", the London production was labelled by "The Sun" as "Flawed of The Rings" on its opening night. [ [ Flawed of the Rings | london culture | the londonpaper ] ] However, it proved popular with audiences, being nominated for 7 Whatsonstage Theatregoer's Choice Awards in 2007 and 5 Olivier Awards in 2008. [ [,,2253419,00.html "Guardian" article, "Olivier awards 2008: nominations in full", Feb. 7, 2008] ] [ [ article, "SHORTLISTS ANNOUNCED IN THE EIGHTH ANNUAL WHATSONSTAGE.COM THEATREGOERS’ CHOICE AWARDS", Dec. 7, 2007] ]

"The Daily Telegraph" predicted the run of the London production to be "nasty, brutish and short" [] . The production closed on July 19, 2008, after 492 performances and 14 months playing to more than 700,000 people. The producers now plan to open a German-language production in Cologne in November 2009 and to tour New Zealand, Australia and the Far-East. [cite news | first=Alistair | last=Smith | coauthors= | title=Lord of the Rings to close in July | date=2008-03-14 | publisher=The Stage | url = | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2008-03-15 | language = ] []


Abbie Osmon took over the role of Galadriel on February 4, 2008 [cite news | first=Baz | last=Bamigboye | coauthors= | title=Look who's Tolkien | date=2006-12-15 | publisher= | url = | work =Daily Mail | pages = | accessdate = 2007-05-24 | language = ] from Laura Michelle Kelly, the same day on which the original cast recording for the London production was released. [cite web | title="The Lord of the Rings Original London Production on | url=] On 21st June 2008 several original London cast members left the production, having not extended their contracts for the final month of performances before the show closed on July 19th. They were replaced from within the company by promotion of their understudies, resulting in a notably different cast list for the final month.

Musical numbers

Act 1

# The Springle-ring
# Prologue (Bilbo's Party)
# The Road Goes On
# The Cat and the Moon
# Flight to the Ford
# The Song of Hope
# Star of Eärendil
# Lament for Moria
# The Balrog

Act 2

# The Golden Wood
# Lothlórien
# Lothlórien (reprise)
# The Temptation of Frodo
# The Orc Attack
# Death of Boromir
# The Ents
# The Siege of the City of Kings
# Now and For Always
# Gollum's Soliloquy

Act 3

# The Song of Hope (reprise)
# Shelob's Lair
# Wonder
# The Final Battle
# The Cracks of Doom
# City of Kings
# Epilogue
# Finale & Bows


On May 31st 2008, a petition was created asking the producers, Kevin Wallace Limited, to release the show on DVD for those who wanted to enjoy the show again or for those who could not afford to see it. [Petition:]


External links

* [ Official site of the "Lord of the Rings" stage production]
* [ Unofficial fansite for the "Lord of the Rings" stage production]
* [ Review of LOTR from]
* [ MusicalTalk podcast episode featuring a discussion about the musical, audience and cast opinions]
* [ Profile of the London production]
* [ Interview article about the London show]
* [ "The Return of the King" stage production in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA]
* [ "ROTK" theatre review from Cincinnati]
* [ Images from the "Lord of the Rings" stage production in Toronto, Canada]
* [ Information about the Toronto production]
* [ 2007 Interview with Star James Loye] on []
* [,,2109783,00.html Review of the London production from "The Observer"]
* [ The official German site of the "Lord of the Rings" stage production]

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