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Archive for January, 2006

A Soldier’s Story

Master Sergeant Keavin Lawdermilk of the Co A, 1st BN, 1st Special Forces Group out of Fort Lewis, Washington writes: I recently had the opportunity to attend the ORC 2006 in Pasadena. It was my first time attending any Lord of the Rings conventions. Had a wonderful time. Several months ago I had returned from military duty in Iraq. I sustained a gunshot injury to my right leg. During the photo-op session with Sean Astin he learned I just returned from Iraq. Mr. Astin was very nice and attentive. At the end of the time that Mr. Astin, and Mr. Wood were “on-stage” Mr. Astin asked me to come up on stage. It was something I was not prepared for, but was exciting. Mr. Astin introduced me to the wonderful ORC group. I have noticed on your website that several members have posted pictures of me on stage. Would it be possible for you to post on your website my email address so those members who took pictures of me on stage could email them to me (if they want to). When I returned home (I am still on convalescent leave) I informed my family, and friends on what happened at the ORC Pasadena convention. Some did not believe me. They say “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I want to thank everyone at, Creation Entertainment, Mr. Sean Astin, and Mr. Elijah Wood, and the wonderful “Ringers” who made my first Lord of the Rings convention a wonderful time.

If anyone has photos of MSG Keavin Lawdermilk on stage, send them along!

Posted in Conventions, Old Main News

Andy Serkis Boards Nolan’s Prestige

Andy Serkis has signed on to Touchstone Pictures’ The Prestige, directed by Christopher Nolan. He joins Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie and Piper Perabo. Bale and Jackman will play rival magicians in turn-of-the-century London who battle each other for trade secrets. The title refers to the residue left after a magician’s successful trick. Serkis plays the assistant of Bowie’s character. [More]

Posted in Andy Serkis, Old Main News

Billy’s Loons Charity Auction

Lindsay writes: Billy’s Loons Charities is auctioning off a photo signed by Billy Boyd. All proceeds will go to the Scottish Youth Theatre. I was hoping you could post it on the site. [More]

Posted in Billy Boyd, Old Main News

LOTR musical set to begin previews

Two days from now, the 50-odd cast members of The Lord Of The Rings stage production will don their Hobbit feet, elf ears and Orc armour for the first full-length dress rehearsal of the $27-million epic. A scant two days after that, the curtain will rise at Toronto’s packed-to-the-rafters Princess of Wales Theatre, and 2,000 paying audience members will be the first in the world to behold the three-hour melding of theatre, music and special effects. Two days from the first full dress rehearsal of a monstrously complex show to the first public performance of same? And you thought dodging evil wizards and Black Riders to chuck a magic ring into a volcano sounded scarier than hell. [More]

Posted in Lord of the Rings, LotR Stage, Old Main News, Stage Productions

Leading the Fellowship

Webster’s Dictionary defines “wizard” both as “One who practices magic or sorcery” and “Someone who is dazzlingly skilled in any field.” They could have just said, “See Brent Carver.” When the 54-year-old Tony Award-winning actor was cast as Gandalf in the production of The Lord of the Rings, which starts previews at the Princess of Wales Theatre this Thursday, it came as no great surprise to anyone familiar with Carver’s theatre work. [More]

Posted in Lord of the Rings, LotR Stage, Old Main News, Stage Productions

Sean Astin on “24”

Be sure to tune into FOX tonight at 9PM EST to catch a new episode of “24” with Sean Astin. Sean has joined the cast of the hit show in it’s fifth season, he plays a savvy government agent who has taken control of ‘CTU’ the Counter Terrorism Unit.

Posted in Old Main News, Sean Astin

TV Watch: Sean Astin on ‘Tony Danza’

Sean Astin will be a guest on ‘The Tony Danza Show’ today on CBS. He is there to promote ’24’ the hit show he has joined this season. Check your local listings.

Posted in Old Main News, Sean Astin

TV Watch: Monaghan on ‘Jay Leno’

Dominic Monaghan is slated to be a guest on ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ tonight on NBC. He is there to talk about his hit show ‘Lost’, ‘The Tonight Show’ airs on NBC at 11:35PM.

Posted in Dominic Monaghan, Old Main News

Meet the LOTR (Musical) cast: Patrick McManus

Coming from a background of classical theatre and new Canadian works, Lord Of The Rings ensemble member Patrick McManus found himself developing new talents to play everything from Saruman spy Bill Ferny to a towering Ent. “What’s amazing about the show is everybody is having to push themselves to new levels,” said McManus, who has also worked with respected Toronto independent theatre companies Red Red Rose and Volcano. [More]

Posted in Lord of the Rings, LotR Stage, Old Main News, Stage Productions

The Lord of the Rings Symphony Comes to Cleveland


“Shore’s symphonic journey certainly echoes J.R.R. Tolkien’s dark and wonderful story, with its mysterious swirling mists, majestic sweeps and whimsical touches where needed. But nothing can match the impact of Shore’s most powerful passages drawing upon full brass and percussion.” – Pittsburgh Post Gazette

New York, NY, January 23, 2006– Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony: Six Movements for Orchestra and Chorus reaches a milestone next month when the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra gives three performances of the work under the direction of the composer. Concerts in Cleveland’s Severance Hall on February 10, 11 and 12 – and in Lyon, France, also in February – will bring the total number of performances of the work to more than 90 since its world-premiere in New Zealand in November 2003.

Looking ahead to the occasion of conducting the justly celebrated ensemble, Howard Shore comments, “To be working with one of the great orchestras in the world is truly an honor.”

Founded in 1918, The Cleveland Orchestra has long been regarded as one of America’s – indeed the world’s – greatest ensembles. Under the direction of a series of extraordinary maestros – including the legendary George Szell and, more recently, Christoph von Dohnányi and current Music Director Franz Welser-Möst – the orchestra has been acclaimed by audiences and critics alike for the breathtaking beauty of its sound and the exceptional breadth of its repertoire.

Peter Czornyj, Artistic Administrator, said, “The Lord of the Rings Symphony has a double appeal of not only being a compelling and evocative piece of music but also a work that will allow us to continue to bring new, diverse, and younger audiences into Severance Hall to hear the Cleveland Orchestra.”

Shore has led a number of previous performances of the two-hour-long symphony as well as the enormously successful soundtrack recordings that accompanied director Peter Jackson’s three record-breaking films in The Lord of the Rings series. Shore also conducts the complete score to the first of the three “Rings” films, The Fellowship of the Ring, on a new deluxe four-CD set released In December 2005 by Warner Reprise. The set contains all the music Shore wrote for the film’s extended version, plus a DVD offering the score in Dolby Surround Sound.

Near the time of the Cleveland performances– but across the Atlantic – the Orchestra National de Lyon will present two performances of the symphony (February 10 and 11). In the spring, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra will also give two performances in Denver (May 19 – 21).

Since its premiere performance in Wellington, New Zealand, on November 29, 2003, Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony has been performed nearly 90 times on four continents. Audiences from Sydney and Tokyo to Los Angeles and London have greeted the two-hour work with rousing ovations following performances in some of the world’s most famous venues – including Sydney’s Opera House, London’s Royal Albert Hall and Moscow’s Kremlin Palace Theater.

Some of the world’s leading international orchestras – including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony and the London Philharmonic – have performed The Lord of the Rings Symphony in addition to regional orchestras across the United States. In summer 2005 the symphony was played in the Odeon Herod Atticus in Athens, Greece, one of the city’s most famous outdoor theaters; at the prestigious Schleswig-Holstein Festival in Germany; and in Oslo’s Frognerparken, where Norway’s acclaimed Oslo Philharmonic played it for a crowd estimated to have topped 70,000. The same orchestra gave another performance a few days later in Bergen for a crowd estimated at more than 30,000. The first two movements of the symphony, comprising The Fellowship of the Ring – the first installment of Tolkien’s trilogy – was performed on a program entitled “The Rings: Myth and Music” with music by Richard Wagner at New York’s Carnegie Hall last November.

Shore takes particular pride in the fact that performances of The Lord of the Rings Symphony all over the world have been given not by a single touring orchestra but almost entirely by local performers:

“The symphony has been presented around the world, but regardless of where it has been done the performances have been given by local artists. That’s the real joy of it for me: this work is helping awaken community interest in the symphony orchestra.”

In addition to Shore, five other conductors have performed the piece internationally: John Mauceri, Alexander Mickelthwate, Markus Huber, Alastair Willis and Terry Edwards.

Howard Shore is currently working on an opera based on his film collaboration with David Cronenberg – a commission of The Fly for Los Angeles Opera. His score for The Aviator (his third collaboration with director Martin Scorsese) won both Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice awards and was just nominated for a Grammy. His soundtrack for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and the song “Into the West” both won Grammy Awards last year as well as two Oscars and two Golden Globe Awards. His soundtracks for the previous installments of the trilogy – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – were also honored with Grammy awards. Shore’s score for The Fellowship of the Ring also earned him an Oscar for Best Original Score. Earlier this month the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures presented Shore with its 2005 Career Achievement for Film Music Composition award.

About The Lord of the Rings Symphony: Six Movements for Orchestra and Chorus

Howard Shore wrote his six-movement The Lord of the Rings Symphony for symphony orchestra, adult and children’s choirs, as well as solo instrumentalists and vocalists, totaling more than 200 musicians on stage. Working with conductor John Mauceri, who first suggested that the music of The Lord of the Rings be preserved as an independent work for the concert hall, Shore created a two-hour symphony drawing from the nearly 12 hours of music he composed for Peter Jackson’s phenomenally successful film trilogy. (Shore received three Oscars and four Grammy awards for the soundtrack recordings.) The six movements of the symphony correspond to the progression of the epic through the six books that were adapted for the film trilogy. These movements capture the enormous complexity and limitless imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien’s creation – from the simple, pastoral beauty of the hobbits’ Shire to the magic and mystery of the Elves and the monumental battle scenes – in music by turns explosive, ethereal and, ultimately, transcendent.

As Doug Adams, author of the soon-to-be-published book The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films explained in a Chicago Tribune interview, “There’s a different style of music for each culture of characters: hobbit, elf, dwarf. If you go to the symphony performance it’s very much like an abstract version of Tolkien’s story.”

Shore achieves this enormous feat by the ingenious use and juxtaposition of a plethora of recurring motifs – close to 80 in all – associated with the various characters and places in the books. Shore’s employment of some instruments foreign to the traditional Western symphony orchestra – and of choral settings in Tolkien’s languages – help conjure up the ancient beauty of Middle-earth, its diverse inhabitants, and the harrowing struggle between the forces of good and evil.

Shore likens the daunting experience of writing the music for the three The Lord of the Rings films to that of the humble hobbit asked to carry the ring. “When I started,” he told the Chicago Tribune, “I was the hobbit with the ring saying, ‘I will do this. I will take the ring to Mordor, although I do not know the way.’” Shore considers his work on The Lord of the Rings to be the culmination of everything he has done in his first 40 years of writing music.

Critical acclaim for Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony

“It wasn’t the crowd that typically attends an orchestra concert, but it was an uplifting sight to see – and one that has been repeated around the world as Howard Shore’s ‘The Lord of the Rings Symphony’ draws new audiences to the symphony…This symphony…is breathtaking. Shore’s music takes listeners into new worlds, evoking a panorama of emotions that cut to the heart including love, serenity, pain and fury. It deserves to be enjoyed long after the movies have left the multiplex.”
– Buffalo News

“[Howard Shore’s] instinct for melody is superb, his integration of legitimate ancient music sources with contemporary-sounding tonal clusters and harmonic invention is terrific, and, most of all, he creates, as both Jackson and Tolkien did before him, an entire imagined universe that is both detailed and consistent.”
– Newark Star-Ledger

“There’s no denying the sweep and rich texture of the work, with its Celtic-like tunes, moody pop songs, and effective use of choral voices (think Carmina Burana, only darker). And Shore’s nod to Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the very end, with the orchestra reveling in the healing power of a major chord, makes a satisfying coda. …When the last notes dissipated, it sounded as if the demonstrative audience would keep the ovation going until long after all signs of Elvish had left the building.”
– Baltimore Sun

“Shore’s musical opus is every bit as impressive as Tolkien’s literary one, standing on its own as a sweeping, operatic experience, even when liberated from the majesty of Jackson’s trilogy.”
– The Seattle Times

“Among the highlights of the six-movement [The Lord of the Rings Symphony] was ‘The Prophecy,’ featuring a lonely ney flute that evoked the other-worldliness of 5,000-year-old Middle-earth. The chorus swelled and climbed with urgent excitement in ‘Concerning Hobbits,’ and a solo fiddle added effervescence to ‘The Shadow of the Past.’ Heavy percussive drive on ‘The Bridge of Khazad-dum’ sweepingly suggested a history of classic cinema spectaculars. Emotional interludes included ‘Hope and Memory’ and ‘The Riders of Rohan’; ‘A Knife in the Dark’ pulsated with ‘Camina Burana’ excitement.”
– Variety

Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony: Upcoming Performances

Friday, February 10, Saturday, February 11 and Sunday, February 12
Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Howard Shore
Cleveland, OH (Severance Hall)

Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11
Orchestre de Lyon conducted by Terry Edwards
Lyon, France (Hall of Tony Garnier)

Friday, May 19, Saturday May 20, Sunday, May 21
Colorado Symphony Orchestra conducted by Markus Huber
Denver, Colorado (Boettcher Hall)

Posted in Concerts, Howard Shore, Old Special Reports

ORC 2006: Reports & More Photos!

ORC 2006 Gallery II
ORC Day Three Report

Ringer Celebriel reports Sunday’s highlights included main stage sessions with Billy Boyd and Miranda Otto, as well as the chance to see a rare first hard cover edition of The Lord of the Rings autographed by J.R.R. Tolkien, on display at the Red Carpet Tours booth.

Billy Boyd

Billy was in top form and really seemed to enjoy sharing stories and answering fan questions. In terms of upcoming projects, he will be working with the National Theatre of Scotland (Billy is a patron of the Scottish Youth Theatre and the organization is supported by his Loons Charities) and there are some film projects in the works as well. (The National Theatre of Scotland launches February 25th with ten performances opening simultaneously in venues across the country – Billy will appear in a piece recreating an MI5-style surveillance operation in a high rise in Soutra Place, Glasgow.)

Some stories and facts about Billy I hadn’t heard before:

-Billy once locked Dom in the cupboard of his trailer because Dom brought him the wrong flavor of Haagen Dasz ice cream. Note to fans: it’s OK to bring chocolate, but not chocolate ice cream.

-While filming Master and Commander, Billy was accidentally hit in the legs almost every time Russell Crowe swung his sword.

-Other than Pippin, the role he would like to have played is Gollum, because of the creativity and technology he knew the part would require to be successful.

– Billy’s Fellowship tattoo is on his ankle, which seemed appropriate because the role had so much to do with feet. However, because it was done a few weeks before the end of principal photography, he was still wearing hobbit feet on the set, and having the glue in the unhealed wounds from the tattoo was not fun.

-Billy is a big fan of both Peter Sellers and George Harrison

About the only question Billy couldn’t answer was identifying the most unusual gift he’d received from a fan, but he said he’d think about it!

Miranda Otto

This was Miranda’s first US convention appearance, and fans greeted her enthusiastically and with many questions about her role as Eowyn. Many questions concerned Eowyn’s complex relationships with other characters. Miranda talked about the changes in the relationship between Aragorn and Eowyn that were made in the films, noting the films kept the relationship ambiguous, keeping open the possibility they could get together while in the books Aragorn respects and likes Eowyn but makes clear he is pledged to another. Miranda feels Eowyn believed Arwen was going or had gone into the west, so she saw Aragorn as a free man.

She enjoyed working with Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) and felt that their scenes effectively created a complex emotional backstory in which Gryma had probably loved her for years and was the one person really paying attention to her while others, including her own family, were occupied with other things. Their scenes communicate the simultaneous feelings of attraction and repulsion she felt for him.

Miranda noted that one basis for Eowyn and Merry’s close relationship was that both were often belittled and overlooked among the Rohirrim.

She also enjoyed working with Bernard Hill (Theoden), explaining that Theoden’s departure scene, in which he asked her to be responsible for the kingdom, was filmed on the last day of principal photography and his death scene was done on the last day of reshoots, making them especially poignant.

Miranda had her own stories about the rewrites and reshoots that characterized life as a Lord of the Rings actor. She got the lines for the song sung in Theodred’s funeral scene only the day before, and they weren’t planned to be a song. She and other women were filmed chanting the lines, and only later was the final song recorded. The work was often hard both emotionally and physically. For example, Eowyn’s reaction shot after seeing Legolas return the Evenstar to Aragorn was done on a reshoot, without the other actors present. Often she played to ping pong balls on sticks. Examples of physical hard work were many bruises on her legs from falling, and being crushed by Karl Urban’s armor in their scene together on Pelennor Fields.

Miranda revealed that Eowyn’s horse Dublin was a gelding originally acquired for Viggo Mortensen but then given to her. Dublin was later sold to a very caring owner – when the horse was brought back for reshoots, he had gained a lot of weight. She also mentioned a fight sequence in the Glittering Caves that was filmed but not used – hmmm, perhaps we’ll see it in some future DVD anniversary release!

Lord of the Rings Signed First Edition on Display – And For Sale

ORC guests had the rare opportunity to see a first United Kingdom edition (1954/1955) of the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings signed by J.R.R. Tolkien (the signature is tipped in front of the title page). The three volumes were on display Sunday at the Red Carpet Tours booth. The Los Angeles area-based owner has had them for about fifteen years and is now offering the set for $22,500.

Dork of the Rings

Dork of the Rings Director Jack Peterson and cast members were in evidence in the main stage room and elsewhere in the hall and held court at their booth in the vendor’s room. Ringers need a new film every year, and 2006 is the year of Dork of the Rings, so sign up for their newsletter to stay informed on plans for the film’s official release.

Dork of the Rings Website

Jack’s Blog


ErinRua writes: I’ve posted just over one hundred ORC 2006 event photos, if you would like to share them with fellow Ringers. These are mainly costumes and the actors’ panels. I promised several of the costume folks that I would try to get their photos online for them, so if you would like to announce this link, it would be a great favor. 🙂 This was my first convention ever, and I had the absolute time of my life! Thank you, TORn! [More]


Arwen: Check out these great pictures of all three days of The One Ring Celebration 2006 at – including Red Carpet Tours’ presentation, Daniel Reeve, the Iron Artist Challenge, the Costume Contest, John Noble, Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, The One Ring Awards show, Billy Boyd (charity breakfast and stage Q&A), and Miranda Otto. [More]

Posted in Conventions, Old Special Reports

Celebriel’s ORC Day Two Report

Celebriel's ORC Day Two Report
John Noble
Celebriel reports: Before talking about John Noble, I just want to mention that Elijah Wood and Sean Astin announced they are returning to New Orleans for Mardi Gras for the Krewe of Bacchus – it’s a great opportunity to see them, enjoy Mardi Gras, and contribute to the recovery of New Orleans (Mardi Gras site)

John Noble

If you enjoy hearing actors talk about their craft, you’ll want to see John Noble every chance you get. John, with a long list of stage, screen, and television credits, has worked as a stage director and drama teacher. He’s appeared in commercials and corporate presentations, and even (once) in an opera.

At his Saturday appearance at ORC, fans had many questions about his portrayal of Denethor and about his current and future projects.

John’s been busy since completing The Lord of the Rings. He has three films due out this year. Running Scared, a noir film directed by Wayne Kramer, opened this month in the UK and opens February 24 in the US. In it, John plays a psychotic Russian mob boss who’s killed by his stepson in a particularly gory explosive death.

In May, the epic historical drama One Night with the King: The Call of Destiny (no, this is NOT about Aragorn– it’s based on the biblical story of Esther) directed by Michael Sabjel and also starring John Rhys-Davies, Omar Sharif, and Peter O’Toole is due for release. Based on the trailer, the film has gorgeous production design, sets, and costumes and so if you tend to like big epic pictures with, uh, gorgeous production design, sets, and costumes, you might want to give it a look.

The third film is Nick Cohen’s horror film Voodoo Lagoon, filmed in Australia, about college kids on a tropical isle.Once again, John has a great death scene, in which his son plucks out his beating heart.

His recent television work includes an appearance in Stargate SG-1 (“Camelot,” due to air March 10, according to IMDB) and a run on the Australia soap opera, Home and Away, in which, John says, “I play a really evil man for a change.”

In 2006 he’s headed for Serbia to appear in Conflict, a thriller directed by John Ireland, filmed in English and Serbo-Croatian, in which he once again plays the father of two sons. Also on tap is a film in England, in which he plays the Devil.

John is an actor who believes in thorough preparation, a slow infiltration into his role, taking on voice, gesture, and working with props, so that when he goes before the camera it’s not really acting – he IS the character. During the wardrobe and makeup process each day he became Denethor. In John’s view, “the craft is about getting inside a character and playing that truth,” regardless of medium.

John was always interested in playing Denethor because of the complexity of the character and its King Lear-ish quality, saying, “the greatest gift you can give an actor is a role like that.” In the end, he lived with the character for nearly five years, from the readings in early 1999 through the start of filming in October 2000 and the return to do the ADR three years later, saying it was a challenge to get back into the character and deliver the dialogue after all that time.

John enjoyed the many challenges of playing Denethor. It was tough to move around in the heavy costume. Also, Denethor’s language comes straight from Tolkien and requires difficult, technical articulation. Getting the right voice creates the character and enables the actor to generate deep emotions. John, and Peter Jackson, had to deal with the challenge of introducing a major character late in the piece. One challenge was to make people care about Denethor – to do this, John worked hard to communicate his complexity and his history.

John maintains passionately that Denethor was not evil – “a great man who made poor choices, but like many characters, they seemed like good choices at the time.” To just see him as evil reduces his complexity. Denethor, like most characters in The Lord of the Rings, has a huge backstory involving the death of his wife, his longstanding concern about Faramir’s closeness to Gandalf, his concerns over many years that Gandalf was preparing to bring back Isildur’s heir, and his resentment that he, Denethor, has been doing the hard job of keeping the country together while Aragorn remained undecided for many decades about his fate.

He sees Denethor as having different expectations for each of his sons. Boromir, his heir, is strong and powerful, just like him, while Faramir, his younger son, more sensitive, scholarly, and influenced by Gandalf, is just tolerated. Why does Denethor agree he would rather Faramir had died? Because in his current state, he has nothing left to live for, as he believes the kingdom is doomed. Also, says John, it was the simple answer: another answer would have open up a host of questions. He chose isolation as a way to convey Denethor’s mental state – the character speaks only to Gandalf, Pippin, and Faramir and seems to live in the throne room.

John says he’s glad he didn’t know when he signed on to play Denethor how big the fan base was, and how huge and involved the online fan base would become during the production and release of the films. ”I would have been terrified!” he says.

John didn’t get nearly as many personal questions as Elijah, Sean, or Billy. He admitted he enjoys playing the guitar and singing, and his taste often runs to broody songs by Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. (No doubt Denthor would approve!) John has two daughters and a son, and his elder daughter Samantha has already begun her acting career.

While John never received a prop or clapper from the production for his time on set, he considers his 2004 Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast for The Return of the King, which he shared with 18 other principal cast members, to be his special memento.

John’s website:

You can access trailers for all three upcoming films here, or separately through IMDB.

Another story about John from Dragon*Con 2005.

Posted in Conventions, Old Special Reports