nouveau-jacobin said: Wait a sec there’s a lotr musical
Right, pull up a chair, it’s story time with your favourite neighbourhood curmudgeonly musical theatre geek.
So, trip to London for my 21st birthday to see Les Mis, sweet! I figure we’re there for a week, so time to fit in a few more shows. I’d heard that there was a musical version of The Lord of the Rings playing in the West End – one of the most expensive productions in the history of the world. And it was closing the week after my trip because Lloyd Webber wanted that theatre for his reality tv cast production of Oliver.
Not the sort of thing it sounded like I was going to get the chance to see again right? I figured, like when I saw Spiderman last year, it would at least be a fun talking point. After all, the talk about the budget made it sound like a total special effects fest and that’s just boring! Now, as a LOTR geek and a theatre director, I was convinced this was going to be a steaming turd, because seriously, you cannot put that novel on the stage. It’s just impossible!
It was *amazing*. And, after Les Mis, possibly the best thing I’ve ever seen on a stage. Yeah, the effects were crazy, but actually it was really well directed and didn’t rely on the effects to tell the story.
And it was amazingly immersive! Orcs running through the audience, and bursting into the boxes. Hobbits catching fireflies around the theatre while the audience were coming in. Aragorn using the dress circle as a mountain lookout. Gollum crawling down the proscenium arch upside down. Galadriel descending from on high on aerial silks. And a HUGE Balrog blasting wind and heat and debris at the audience.
It’s not a traditional musical. Half of the music is in Elvish after all! It’s more of a play with songs, but musicals get bigger budgets and more audience members, so I don’t blame them for that. But the music is really cool and suitably otherworldly. It’s very much condensed, but hey, when you look at Les Mis, so is that! Like, Georges Pontmercy is an important thing in the book, so if he’s cut, why not squish Rohan and Gondor into one for the sake of letting us out of the theatre some time this century.
It was so good that I came out and bought every single item of merchandise I could get my hands on. We were at a matinee and we genuinely considered buying tickets to go back again that evening it was so good. And I’ve never forgiven the gods of theatre for the fact that it closed. My mum and I agreed when it closed that we would fly anywhere in Europe to see it again, so that’s very well what this World Tour may mean.
Anyway, check the video for a little flavour of it. 🙂