LONDON–It’s gotten better; it’s gotten worse. The revised production of The Lord of the Rings that opened at the Drury Lane Theatre last night is not unlike a friend who’s been hitting the Botox a bit too heavily. At first glance, they may seem sleek and lovely, but look closer and you’ll find that everything underneath is frozen and unmoving. What has the show gained since its run in Toronto? A more effective use of its sets and lighting, a clearer storyline in Act III and a smashing performance from Laura Michelle Kelly as Galadriel. [More]Posted in Lord of the Rings, LotR Stage, Old Main News
Archive for the ‘LotR Stage’ Category
LONDON–Michael Therriault has learned a new definition of “precious.” True, he’s spending his days swooping around the giant stage of the Drury Lane Theatre in search of the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings, opening here tonight. But ask him what he really cares about and Therriault, who is here recreating his award-winning Toronto performance of Gollum, answers without hesitation: “My family and friends back home. I wish I could be with all of them.” But there’s only going to be one person in the Therriault cheering section tonight, his girlfriend, actor Tracy Michailidis, and that’s the way he wants it. [More]Posted in Lord of the Rings, LotR Stage, Old Main News
LONDON, June 19 (UPI) — The Theatre Royal in London’s West End launched the stage adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.” The show, which cost $24.9 million and features 17 pneumatic lifts beneath the stage, began previews in May, the BBC reported Tuesday. The production debuted in Toronto last year but was cut by about 35 minutes for the West End opening after it wasn’t well-received by critics. [More]Posted in Events, LotR Stage, Old Main News, Stage Productions
From Michael Billington (at Guardian Unlimited): I suppose there are two ways to approach this mega-musical: either as a paid-up Tolkien aficionado or as a wide-eyed newcomer. Having dipped only briefly into the original trilogy and the Peter Jackson movies, I entered Drury Lane as innocent as any hairy-toed hobbit. But I emerged three-and-a-quarter hours later sceptical as to the main matter but hugely impressed by the manner of Matthew Warchus’s production. Obviously Shaun McKenna and Warchus, as co-authors, face a huge task in boiling down a 1000-page fantasy into a theatrical narrative. But, although bits of the backstory remain obscure, the main thrust is clear. Frodo Baggins, a junior hobbit, and his chums are deputed by the wizard, Gandalf, to undertake an epic journey to Mount Doom to dispose of the evil Ring. In the course of their quest they acquire the company of elves, dwarves and rangers. They encounter sinister black riders and orcs, pass through Rivendell and the Golden Wood and ultimately do battle with the forces of the Dark Lord, Sauron. Finally, however, they get rid of the damned Ring. [More]Posted in Events, LotR Stage, Old Main News, Stage Productions
It’s the most expensive West End musical ever and has been three years in the making, but now The Lord of the Rings is about to open. Paul Arendt enters a world of elves, ents and leather-clad orcs. Matthew Warchus is looking a little frazzled. It’s not surprising: after three years of development, a lengthy dry run in Toronto and an unprecedented six weeks of London previews, The Lord of the Rings musical is ready to face the critics. As director and co-writer, Warchus has given four years of his life to the project. “I don’t have to worry about this becoming habit forming,” he says during a break in rehearsals. “I certainly don’t intend to do something on this scale ever again.” [More]Posted in Events, LotR Stage, Old Main News, Stage Productions
Deep in the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, a creaky network of girders and cantilevers has supported theatrical spectacle ever since the building reopened in 1812. But this Grade I-listed temple of illusion has never witnessed anything quite as ambitious the show that began previewing there last month. The Lord of the Rings, the three-hour, £12.5 million musical that opens on June 19, relies for at least some of its visual coups on the most complex engineering ever assembled under any stage. It doesn’t look like much from the gantry alongside: a huge drum. But inside is a carousel of moving parts that allows 17 separate sections of the revolving stage to rise and fall in seemingly infinite permutations, to make the bridges, mountains, valleys and ramparts of Middle-earth. This groundbreaking piece of kit has dominated rehearsals, says the director, Matthew Warchus. Everything – music, choreography, lighting, sound design and (last but hopefully not least) actors – must be synchronised to the motions of the floor. [More]Posted in Events, Lord of the Rings, LotR Stage, Old Main News, Stage Productions
If they gave out Olivier Awards for bravery, the producer Kevin Wallace would win hands-down. It’s not just because of the insane task he set himself: taking a 1,200-page epic with mighty battles, ungodly creatures and a core cast of a dozen characters that on the big screen took ten hours and three films to tell, and compressing it into just three hours on a single stage. With songs. It’s because when his multimillion-dollar The Lord of the Rings extravaganza opened in Toronto last year to, let us diplomatically say, less than universal rapture, he remained cool under fire. [More]Posted in Events, Lord of the Rings, LotR Stage, Old Main News, Stage Productions
Thanks to all those who wrote in with the bit of bad news about the LOTR musical and an injury to one of its performers. The BBC’s article about it can be found right here. We wish the cast member a speedy recovery and the show all the best.Posted in Events, Lord of the Rings, LotR Stage, Old Main News, Stage Productions
I must admit, I was very sceptical that something like The Lord of the Rings could be adapted as a musical and fit into a 3 hour stage show and after hearing poor reviews about the Toronto show I was reluctant to spend £50 on a ticket. I’m glad I did.
The first thing you notice when you enter the theatre is that you are suddenly surrounded by the creeping branches of Fangorn Forrest:
About 30 minutes before curtain up a group of Hobbits emerged and started frolicking around on stage trying to capture fireflies and chatting to the audience in character.
So how do you transform Middle Earth and put it all on a single stage – well with the help of what must be the most sophisticated stage technology in existence they have done a remarkable job. A turntable moves the stage in both directions at once and several platforms on hydraulics rise up and down creating the illusion of climbing etc.
But what about the story? Of course there have to be massive sacrifices. The whole Weathertop scene is cut and Frodo is stabbed at the Prancing Pony instead. The character of Denethor and Theoden are fused together as one and in fact I don’t think there was a single mention of the words Rohan or Gondor throughout the entire show. Bizarrely there is a (albeit a brief) mention of Tom Bombadil, maybe in an attempt to stick two fingers up at the film producers who never satisfied fans lust to see Tom in the movies!
One thing that amused me were the Ents. They are basically people on very long stilts however it was Treebeard that made me chuckle the most. For some reason they’ve given him a thick Lancashire accent!
The Orcs are terrifying! During the short period between act II and act III they come out and pester the audience and all I could hear were girls screaming. When they are onstage they perform all sorts of neat acrobatic moves making the battle scenes very dramatic. Similarly Gollum looks fantastic and the performance from the actor playing him is great – he’s got his movements off to a fine art.
But what about the music? This is a musical after all! This was my only disappointment really, for such an epic performance the songs didn’t really meet the same standards – the lyrics weren’t very impressive and the vocals from the performers aren’t great either. I think a lot of the songs have been cut as a massive overhaul of the production to cut the run time from the 4 hours it was at Toronto to a traditional 3 hours.
All in all, I’d definitely recommend the show to anyone but would advise people to pay full price and get the best tickets in the stalls for the complete Middle Earth experience!Posted in Events, Lord of the Rings, LotR Stage, Old Special Reports, Stage Productions
It is the most expensive theatrical production in history. Now The Lord Of The Rings musical is coming to Britain. Tanya Gold ventures backstage to find a smoking Gandalf, giant spiders and Frodo wondering where he put that ring. This is the story of how some hobbits danced, died and maybe – just maybe – came back to life. It begins in 2001, when a producer called Kevin Wallace sees a script for a musical of The Lord Of The Rings. Wallace has never read the book, but he wants a smash show to launch his production company and so, with an oedipal snap at his former boss, Andrew Lloyd Webber, he goes to Saul Zaentz, the legendary producer who owns the rights, and begs to stage the monster. Zaentz agrees, Wallace raises £12.5m, and in March 2006 his musical version of Tolkien’s trilogy makes its world premiere in Toronto. [More]Posted in Lord of the Rings, LotR Stage, Old Main News, Stage Productions
The Lord of The Rings stage musical opening in London this summer has cost £8m, needed a crew of 80 to build it and a cast of 50 to perform it. The historic Theatre Royal, Drury Lane had to be refitted so completely that English Heritage oversaw some of the work. The new stage alone has 17 pneumatic lifts and three turntables, the wardrobe uses 500 pieces of armour and the actors playing talking trees need 10ft stilts. [More]Posted in Lord of the Rings, LotR Stage, Old Main News, Stage Productions
LONDON — Saruman, that grizzled old necromancer, is caught in a spotlight, sounding a battle cry to his army of orcs: “I have trained you and equipped you! I know your hearts beat with a single purpose!” The orcs scuttle purposefully as the martial score swells and Saruman brandishes his staff (very old-school, price unknown) while rising up, borne aloft on a nifty piece of stage technology (very new-school, price at least $1-million). The music fades, Saruman (also known as Brian Protheroe) thunks down to stage level, and the assistant choreographer comes out to have a word with her orcs. In an instant, their body language changes from rampaging chimpanzee to off-duty actor: shoulders slumped, legs splayed, chins on spears. The stage they’re on, at the historic Theatre Royal Drury Lane, is framed by creeping branches that reach out into the auditorium, partly obscuring a couple of the boxes. [More]Posted in Lord of the Rings, LotR Stage, Old Main News, Stage Productions