Tolkien Trilogy Musical Premieres in West End 2005Date: 28 May 2003
London is host to the world premiere of Lord of the Rings: The Musical. The eight million pound production, which has book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna and music by Stephen Keeling and Bernd Stromberger, is set to open in the West End in Spring 2005 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the publication of JRR Tolkien's classic trilogy.
Film director Peter Jackson is in the process of completing his epic film versions of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King, bringing the cult books to film fans but it is producers Kevin Wallace and Saul Zaentz who have decided to make the leap to musical.
Matthew Warchus is set to direct. Among his many West End credits are Tell Me On a Sunday, Our House and Yasmina Reza's long running Art and Life x 3. Book and music team McKenna and Keeling are known for the West End musical Maddie.
Producer Kevin Wallace said “Our objective is to create an inclusive piece of theatre to satisfy theatre goers and Tolkein fans alike as well as people who only go to theatre once a year. It’s wonderful material which gives us the chance to pull out all the stops and use theatrical storytelling magic to tell this epic story”.
Despite having stars from Jackson's film version grace the London stage - Ian McKellen who plays the wizard Gandalf is currently in Dance of Death and Sean Bean took the title in Macbeth at the Albery until March this year - casting for Lord of the Rings: The Musical has not yet begun. Wallace said “Matthew Warchus is a fine director of actors and we’ll be searching wide and deep through the talent pool to cast a company of about 50.”
”With regard to venue, because of the scale, it will be in one of the 2000 seat houses, there are five of those in London, we are in discussions and have had a very good response from Theatre Managers”. The five possible venues are the Apollo Victoria, the Dominion, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the London Palladium and the Lyceum.
Wallace has been responsible for producing a number of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals including Whistle Down the Wind, Beautiful Game, Jesus Christ Superstar and Sunset Boulevard while Zaentz's film production credits include the oscar winning Amadeus, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The English Patient.
- by Hannah Kennedy