Roheryn writes: Oh, what to do, what to do in that dreary stretch between the release of the ROTK trailer and the release of the film itself? If you feel the need for an ROTK fix, come to Cincinnati in late October. The Clear Stage Cincinnati theatre company will be presenting the final installment of the three-year-spanning Lord of the Rings production!
As with the previous two installments, the play will be staged at the Jarson-Kaplan Theatre at the Aronoff Center for the Performing Arts in the heart of Downtown Cincinnati, from October 17 through 25. Also as before, this original stage production is a World Premiere, which will hit the boards two months before the Peter Jackson film. Unlike the previous productions, this engagement offers general admission seating rather than reserved, so don’t be late! Below is a link to their web site with more detailed information about the production. It even has a cool Flash-animated “trailer” of its own!
(I noticed that if you click around on this site back and forth a lot, different pictures will come up as the background, photos that appear to be from their Two Towers production.)
Tickets are $16 (adults) and $12 (kids & students), and can be ordered through this link.
SEE WHAT YOU’VE BEEN MISSING!
The following link is hosted by the main puppet and mask designer for the production, and includes a number of photographs from the previous productions! The Balrog and Shelob both won top prizes at local awards programs. The masks are here, too, as well as a look at the innovative ways that horses have been portrayed on stage. Even fans of Asfaloth, Bill, Hasufel, and Arod will find their favorite steeds represented! [More]
A BIT OF BACKGROUND
I was one of a lucky few theatre-goers who was fortunate enough to experience the world premiere production of “The Fellowship of the Ring,” staged by the Ovation Theatre Company of Cincinnati in September 2001. It’s a shame their marketing efforts didn’t measure up to the quality of the show, because a lot of people missed out on an outstanding theatre experience. Though far too many seats were empty, our cheers and applause rang to the rafters.
Not unlike a little Hobbit being asked to carry the fate of Middle-earth on his shoulders, there is something very appropriate about such a small theatre company bringing Tolkien’s awesome epic to the stage. London, keep your multi-million-pound musical extravaganza — all that’s required for the Cincinnati version is creativity, imagination, and heart! And, YES, the Ovation Theatre Company version of The Fellowship of the RIng was indeed a musical — using the songs just as Tolkien wrote them! And that includes the Lorien Elves singing “Namarie” in Quenya! This production also managed to include Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, Old Man Willow, Ted Sandyman, Farmer Maggot and his dogs, and Bill Ferny (no Barrow-wights, though). There were many unexpected surprises with the casting — women played the roles of Gandalf, Merry, Pippin, Gollum, many of the orcs, and even Gimli! And they were FANTASTIC! I also thought it was interesting that in the pre-Jackson production, Arwen also replaced Glorfindel, arriving on Asfaloth, though in this version, as in the book, Frodo rode on alone as the Black Riders pursued him to the Ford of Bruinen. The whole production was clearly a labor of love by true Tolkien devotees. One of the scenes at Rivendell even depicted Elrond saying a private farewell to Aragorn before the Fellowship sets out, reminding Aragorn that he must win the throne of Gondor and Arnor before Elrond will allow Arwen to be his bride — you know, all those Appendix goodies!
In October 2002, larger audiences (no doubt fueled by interest from the Jackson films) turned out to see the staging of The Two Towers. Several of the cast members had changed, but many of the best had returned, including Sam, Gimli, and the unbelievably wonderful Gollum. (Personal note: I actually preferred the performance of the woman who played Gandalf in the first play, with her flowing scarves arrayed as a beard, than the older white-bearded man who portrayed him in The Two Towers. But, hey, it’s all good!) I must admit that I noticed with some discomfort that the costuming of the The Two Towers play had become somewhat derivative of the Fellowship of the Ring film, which had since been released. Saruman and Legolas in particular were more than a little patterned after the costumes, props, and hairstyles we’d all seen on the big screen. One of the things I had really enjoyed about the first play was that it was completely original, not yet having the films for a reference. But all was forgiven when I saw Treebeard, who completely stole the show! A fantastic melding of costume, stilts, mask, and “Edward Scissorhands”-type appendages, coupled with a wonderful booming delivery made true magic happen before our eyes! And Shelob was completely creepy, first appearing as glowing red eyes, closer, closer, before her full horror was revealed. The Battle of Helm’s Deep was more on the scale and focus given to it in the book, not the main set piece as was depicted in the film. And I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the original score that accompanied the production was truly wonderful, very moving and stirring.
In the past year, there have been some changes with the Ovation Theatre Company, and the third Tolkien play will now be staged by a new theatre company here, “Clear Stage Cincinnati.” Many of the creative team that brought the first two installments to the stage have relocated to Clear Stage, so we can expect the same enchanting and thrilling and heart-breaking experience as those lucky few of us have enjoyed over the past two years!