Ever since it was announced in London that “The Lord of the Rings” would be turned into a musical budgeted at $13 million, fans have feared the worst: Gandalf singing a rock ballad, Orcs doing jazz hands, high-kicking hobbits. Well, the first workshop is finished, and early reports are in. Purists, prepare yourselves. First off the director, Matthew Warchus, promises that the show will “avoid embarrassments.” Well, that’s certainly a good start.
Mr. Warchus also compares the music of the show, scheduled in the West End in the spring of 2005, to the folk tunes of “The Lion King.” Nice. But what about the book? Mr. Warchus won’t go into specifics, but he says literary license was taken. The novelist J. R. R. Tolkien “wrote the story like it was history, and that is how we are treating it,” Mr. Warchus said by phone.
“This will be a different account of events. It’s sort of like different versions of the Gospels.” And if this incurs the wrath of armies of fans of the original Middle Earth, Mr. Warchus is ready for them. “It’s impossible to please everyone,” he said.