Wallace realized the huge potential for a stage musical version of the classic trilogy of Middle Earth adventures, and approached American producer Saul Zaentz, who owns the stage rights to Tolkein's epic saga. The musical, which will open in the spring of 2005 — the year that marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of “The Lord of the Rings” — will cost over £8 million to stage, making it the most expensive show in the history of the West End.
While promising to be the most spectacular show ever seen in London, The Lord of the Rings' success will depend on the casting (and words, and music) more than any special effects, and Wallace promises, "We will not rest until we've found the perfect Frodo!"
The immediate question many people are asking is whether Sir Ian McKellen will be up for the role of Gandalf — one he created in the film — on stage. Wallace is suitably discrete and won't be drawn on the matter.
The director of this musical will be Matthew Warchus, who has a current hit with Our House at the Cambridge Theatre. Warchus says he looks forward to the challenge of staging something so epic. Given the size of the project, only a handful of theatres are suitable, and the clever money is on either the Apollo Victoria or the Dominion. Runners-up in the stakes would be Drury Lane and the Palladium, but the first two offer the chance of a rather more flexible and adventurous staging.