London Lord of the Rings Officially Opens June 19

News   London Lord of the Rings Officially Opens June 19
After six weeks of previews - minus two days because of an onstage accident - Matthew Warchus' £12.5 million ($25 million) production of Lord of the Rings finally opens at London's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane June 19. The musical spectacular began previews May 9.
James Loye as Frodo in The Lord of the Rings.
James Loye as Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. Photo by Manuel Harlan

At three hours, the London version is 40 minutes shorter than the original Toronto production, and sees RSC actor Malcolm Storry, most recently seen at the National in The Royal Hunt for the Sun, take on the role of Gandalf.

The cast also includes Olivier Award winner Laura Michelle Kelly (Mary Poppins) as Galadriel, and James Loye and Peter Howe, who originated their roles of Hobbits Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, respectively, in the Toronto world premiere.

Michael Therriault reprises his Dora Award-winning Toronto performance as Gollum, Jerome Pradon (Les Misérables) plays Aragorn, Richard Henders (Caroline, or Change in London) plays Merry, and Owen Sharpe re-creates Pippin, the role he originated in Toronto. Michael Rouse The Boyfriend) plays Legolas, Sévan Stephan (Guys and Dolls) plays Gimli, Steven Miller plays Boromir and Rosalie Craig takes on Arwen.

Other members of the 50-strong cast include Andrew Jarvis (who plays Elrond), Terence Frisch (Bilbo), Tim Morgan (Théoden) and Kirsty Malpass (Rosie).

The J.R.R. Tolkien-inspired work received its premiere at Toronto's 2,000-seat Princess of Wales Theatre on March 23, 2006. Warchus' three-act production is the first stage adaptation of the literary epic and follows the hugely successful film trilogy. The London version arrives two years after the 2005 70th anniversary of Tolkien starting the trilogy, and the 50th anniversary since the works – "The Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King" - were published.

Book and lyrics are by Shaun McKenna and Warchus with music supplied by A.R. Rahman and Finnish band Värttinä with Christopher Nightingale. The show is choreographed by Peter Darling with set and costume design by Rob Howell.

While Peter Jackson's movie version of the trilogy amounted to nine hours of cinema, the London version runs at three hours.

Of the stage adaptation, Warchus previously said, "We have not attempted to pull the novel towards the standard conventions of musical theatre, but rather to expand those conventions so that they will accommodate Tolkien's material. As a result, we will be presenting a hybrid of text, physical theatre, music and spectacle never previously seen on this scale. To read the novel is to experience the events of Middle-earth in the mind's eye; only in the theatre are we actually plunged into the events as they happen. The environment surrounds us. We participate. We are in Middle-earth."

For more on Lord of the Rings, which is produced in London by Kevin Wallace and Saul Zaentz, call (0)870 890 6002.

A Black Rider from the London production of <i>The Lord of the Rings</i>.
A Black Rider from the London production of The Lord of the Rings. Photo by Manuel Harlan
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