LOTR Musical: A New Legend Is Born
For Immediate Release: March 16, 2005
A New Legend Is Born
The Stage Adaptation of
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
will have its World Premiere in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
at the Princess of Wales Theatre
Performances Begin February 2, 2006
The book trilogy has sold in excess of 200 million copies. The multi award-winning three-film adaptation broke box office records. Now, J.R.R. Tolkien’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS arrives on stage.
An acclaimed international creative team has combined all three books into one unmissable theatrical event. With a thrilling score, a spectacular design, and featuring an ensemble of over 65 actors, singers and musicians, THE LORD OF THE RINGS is the biggest and most ambitious theatrical production ever staged.
A Kevin Wallace Limited Production, presented by Kevin Wallace and Saul Zaentz, in association with David and Ed Mirvish and Michael Cohl, THE LORD OF THE RINGS $27,000,000 stage production will have its World Premiere in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
“THE LORD OF THE RINGS has captured the imagination of the City and Provincial governments of Toronto and Ontario which have – with our Canadian partners – created the ideal platform from which to launch our Premiere production to the world,” says producer Kevin Wallace. “From February 2006, visit Toronto and you will find Middle-earth”
Performances will begin February 2, 2006 at the 2,000-seat, Princess of Wales Theatre. The gala opening performance will be on March 23, 2006.
Background to the Stage Production
J.R.R. Tolkien began writing THE LORD OF THE RINGS in 1936. By the autumn of 1948, he wrote to a friend, “I succeeded at last in bringing THE LORD OF THE RINGS to a successful conclusion I think there is a chance of it being published, though it will be a massive book, far too large to make any money for the publisher (let alone the author).”
The publishers Allen & Unwin accepted the manuscript and worked with Tolkien to divide the work into a more manageable three volumes, with the final installment published in 1955. Despite Tolkien’s original doubt of the popular and commercial appeal of the work, today the publisher HarperCollins estimates there are more than 200 million copies of Tolkien’s books in print.
Further proof of the universality of the work is the international popularity of the New Line Cinema/Peter Jackson film trilogy released between December 2001 and December 2003.
In November 2001, an early draft of a stage adaptation of THE LORD OF THE RINGS by Shaun McKenna was brought to the attention of producer Kevin Wallace.
“It demonstrated you could deliver Tolkien’s trilogy on stage in one epic and eventful evening,” says producer Wallace.
Kevin Wallace Limited (KWL) acquired the rights to Shaun’s draft and commenced negotiations with The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Tolkien Enterprises (SZC) to secure the underlying rights. Those negotiations concluded in April 2003 when SZC (the same company that licensed New Line Cinema to produce the Jackson films) granted KWL an exclusive worldwide licence to commission and produce the first major stage adaptation of THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
At the same time Kevin Wallace confirmed Matthew Warchus Director), Rob Howell (Designer), Christopher Nightingale (Musical Supervisor), Peter Darling (Choreographer), Simon Baker (Sound Designer) and Paul Kieve (Illusions Director) were joining the project.
The Creative Process
In May 2003 Matthew Warchus set out the approach he wished to take in bringing the story to the stage. Music was to be an integral part of the storytelling, and a search began for the composer. Ultimately, the producers and creative team chose two distinct collaborators for this purpose: the Indian composer A.R. Rahman, a star of Indian cinema, stage and popular music; and Värttinä, a contemporary Finnish group comprised of three female singers and six acoustic musicians, that has built an international reputation in the contemporary world music arena.
The music of each of these collaborators is rooted in the integrity and antiquity of their respective cultures. Additionally, one of the original points of inspiration for Tolkien’s story of Middle-earth was The Kalevala, Finland’s national epic of mythological songs, poems and stories. Värttinä shares the same inspiration for its music and lyrics.
In the summer of 2003, Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus set about redrafting Shaun’s original text; set and costume designer, Rob Howell, began the design process; and A.R. Rahman and Värttinä began to compose the score with Christopher Nightingale.
The epic nature of Tolkien’s story demands that traditional stage and scenic techniques be rethought and expanded. Having completed several workshops of the text, music and scenic elements through 2003 and 2004, THE LORD OF THE RINGS is now ready to go into rehearsals in Toronto in October 2005.
“What we have is a beautiful and spectacular adaptation of Tolkien’s epic that in word, music, design and performance honours the original trilogy in its imagination, scale and insight. THE LORD OF THE RINGS is one of the great stories of the last century, and not surprisingly it will take us three hours of stage time to perform our version of all three books – three unforgettable extraordinary hours in Middle-earth for audiences of all ages,” says producer Kevin Wallace.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS on stage
Combining classical drama, physical theatre, music and spectacle, the production cannot be described in conventional terms. For instance, although the production will be filled with music and, like Tolkien’s books, have numerous songs, it is unlike any traditional musical.
“Our respect for Tolkien’s book means that every step of this adaptation to the stage has been rigorously thought through to avoid all possibility of trivialising the material,” says director Matthew Warchus.
“We have not attempted to pull the novel towards the standard conventions of Musical Theatre, but rather to expand those conventions so that they will accommodate Tolkien’s material. As a result, we will be presenting a hybrid of Text, Physical Theatre, Music and Spectacle never previously seen on this scale.
“Following in the tradition of many great quest stories told on the world’s stages over the millennia, I believe Tolkien’s story of the One Ring will blossom and flourish in its adaptation. Great theatre has a boundless capacity to thrill, delight, touch and amaze an audience and this piece, with its extraordinary flights of imagination and powerful emotional core, will, I think, thrive on the stage.
“To read the novel is to experience the events of Middle-earth in the mind’s eye; to watch the films is to view Middle-earth as though through a giant window. Only in the theatre are we actually plunged into the events as they happen. The environment surrounds us. We participate. We are in Middle-earth.”
The World Premiere Production
Casting for the premiere production will begin immediately across Canada. Rehearsals start in Toronto on October 24.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS will be the cornerstone show of Toronto’s Mirvish Theatre 2005-06 Subscription Season. Mirvish season subscribers will have exclusive access to tickets until May 15.
Single tickets for the initial booking period go on sale via www.lotr.com at 9:00am (EST) on May 15. Phone sales and in-person sales at the theatre box office will begin at 9:00am (EST) on May 16.
The official website – www.lotr.com – will broadcast all casting and ticketing news about the production. Audience members are advised to join the email list for timely news of the production.
KEVIN WALLACE and SAUL ZAENTZ
In association with DAVID & ED MIRVISH, and MICHAEL COHL
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
Book and Lyrics by
and MATTHEW WARCHUS
with CHRISTOPHER NIGHTINGALE
Set and Costume Design by ROB HOWELL
Sound Design by SIMON BAKER (FOR AUTOGRAPH)
Moving Image Design by THE GRAY CIRCLE
Illusions Direction by PAUL KIEVE
Tolkien Creative Consultation by LAURIE BATTLE
Musical Supervision by CHRISTOPHER NIGHTINGALE
Orchestrations by CHRISTOPHER NIGHTINGALE, A.R. RAHMAN AND VÄRTTINÄ
Choreographed by PETER DARLING
Directed by MATTHEW WARCHUS
A KEVIN WALLACE LIMITED PRODUCTION
Based on the Lord of the Rings trilogy of books by J.R.R. Tolkien. Written and produced under license from The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Tolkien Enterprises (SZC). THE LORD OF THE RINGS and the names of the characters, events, items & places therein are trademarks or registered trademarks of SZC and are used under license. All rights reserved. © Kevin Wallace Limited 2005.
LOTR UK & INTERNATIONAL PRESS REPRESENTATION:
Peter Thompson Associates
TORONTO PRESS REPRESENTATION
John Karasatamatis, Director of Communications
Sue Toth, Communications Manager