Full casting for the 50-strong company of The Lord of the Rings has been announced today. Full rehearsals begin on 5 February for the £12.5 million stage adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s trilogy, which receives its European premiere at the West End’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 19 June 2007 (previews from 9 May).

As previously announced (See News, 15 Dec 2006), James Loye and Peter Howe will recreate their roles as Hobbit heroes Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee from the musical’s world premiere production in Toronto in March 2006, with Mary Poppins star Laura Michelle Kelly as Elven queen Galadriel. Also reprising Toronto performances will be Owen Sharpe (Pippin) and Michael Therriault (Gollum).

Other principals are: Malcolm Storry (RSC and National veteran most recently seen in The Royal Hunt of the Sun as Gandalf; Jerome Pradon Les Misérables, Martin Guerre, Olivier-nominated for Pacific Overtures at the Donmar) as Aragorn; ; Richard Henders (Caroline, Or Change at the National, also Olivier-nominated for Pacific Overtures) as Merry; Michael Rouse (The Boy Friend) as Legolas; Sevan Stephan (Guys and Dolls, Grand Hotel, Lautrec) as Gimli; Steven Miller (currently in Fiddler on the Roof at Sheffield Crucible) as Boromir; and Rosalie Craig (TV’s Casanova and My Family and Other Animals) as Arwen.

The cast will also comprise: Andrew Jarvis (as Elrond), Terence Frisch (Bilbo), Tim Morgan (Théoden) and Kirsty Malpass (Rosie) as well as Alexandra Bonnet, Greg Bradley, James Byng, Darren Carnall, Lee Clayden, Jennie Dale, Claire Doyle, Stephen Emery, Ben Evans, Josh Feldshuh, Alma Ferovic, Wayne Fitsimmons, Chris Gage, David Grant, Shaun Henson, Christopher D. Hunt, Luke Johnson, Corrie Mac, Stuart Neal, Tim Parker, Richard Roe, Andrew Rothwell, Adam Salter, Robbie Scotcher, Nick Searle, Stevie Tate-Bauer, Jon Tsouras, Gavin Wilkinson, Glen Wilkinson, Sam Wilmot and Kirk Zammit.

The Lord of the Rings, which has been slimmed down to three hours since its Canadian run, has a book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus, and music by Bombay Dreams’ AR Rahman and Finnish folk group Värttinä with Christopher Nightingale (See News, 21 Oct 2003). The production is designed by Rob Howell and choreographed by Peter Darling. It’s presented in London by Kevin Wallace and Saul Zaentz.

The stage adaptation follows the 50th anniversary of the publication of the complete trilogy - The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King - as well Peter Jackson’s multi award-winning film blockbusters, completed in 2003.

According to director Matthew Warchus: “To read the novel is to experience the events of Middle-earth in the mind’s eye; to watch the films is to view Middle-earth as though through a giant window. 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.”

Commenting specifically on the musical theatre approach, Warchus 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.”

- by Terri Paddock