Whether or not it qualifies as a fair exchange, Toronto plans to send "The Lord of the Rings: The Musical" to London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane May 9.
Canadian critics had their reservations about the Toronto world premiere of the $27 million stage adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's fabled fantasy trilogy and Peter Jackson's trio of Oscar-winning movie spinoffs.
When not speaking Elvish or Olde English, 55 actors and acrobats used a variety of British accents, including Welsh for the dwarfs, a West Country twang for the hobbits and a North Country accent for the ents, to bring to life the epic struggle of the denizens of Middle-earth for the Ring of Power. The struggle took place on a computerized, 30-ton stage floor.
India's A.R. Rahman ("Bombay Dreams"), Finnish folk group Värttinä and British composer Christopher Nightingale created the score. The lyrics feature a mix of Elvish and English.
Budgeted at $23 million and shorter by a half-hour, the "trimmed, tightened and reworked" British version is said to be the most expensive stage production ever to be staged in London.
Henry Edwards is the arts critic for Flatironmag.com.