Telephone booking and in-person sales begin today, May 16. The 24-hour head start for web sales, according to a press release, was to allow Tolkien fans around the world to have an equal chance to book their seats.
The show, budgeted at 27 million Canadian dollars (around U.S. $21.7 million), will be one of the most expensive ever staged. Had original plans to start it in the West End proceeded, it would have cost even more.
The show will feature over 65 actors, singers and musicians. Matthew Warchus is directing, with designs by Rob Howell and choreography by Peter Darling. Book and lyrics are by Warchus and Shaun McKenna. Music is by A.R. Rahman (Bombay Dreams) and the Finnish group Warttnia. Christopher Nightingale is the musical director. The producers are Kevin Wallace and Saul Zaentz, in association with David and Ed Mirvish and Michael Cohl.
Casting is now underway, with over 4,000 performers having already been auditioned. A cast should be in place by the end of the summer, with rehearsals scheduled to begin in October 2005. This rules out any hope movie fans might have had of Ian McKellen reprising his film role as Gandalf — he's committed to an entirely different song-and-dance show over the Christmas 2005 period, reviving his Widow Twanky in the Old Vic's Aladdin.
Set construction for Lord of the Rings is already underway. The intricate stage floor — itself costing 1.2 million Canadian dollars and weighing 30 tons — is nearing completion in the UK, ready for shipping to Toronto. Performances begin Feb. 2, 2006, at Toronto’s Princes of Wales Theatre. Seats are priced between 78 and 125 Canadian dollars. For more information, call (416) 872-1212 or visit www.lotr.com.