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WOS TV: The Lord of the Rings' Opening Spectacle

By • West End
The West End met Middle Earth last night (19 June 2007, previews from 9 May) at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, where the spectacular £12.5 million stage adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s trilogy The Lord of the Rings at last received its European premiere (See Also Today’s 1st Night Photos & Review Round-up).

At an estimated cost of £12.5 million, the epic, described by producer Kevin Wallace as “Shakespeare meets Cirque du Soleil”, is the most expensive production in West End history. The 45-foot stage alone, equipped with three revolves and 17 lifts, cost £1 million. In addition to the expense, the design for The Lord of the Rings is the most high-tech and physically complex in the West End. The show features stilt-walking, giant leaping and aerial choreography, as well as dance, magic illusions and other special effects.

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For Whatsonstage.com TV, we were on hand at for the red carpet arrivals and curtain call at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and for the post-show party at the Royal Courts of Justice. Amongst our TV interviewees are The Lord of the Rings cast members Laura Michelle Kelly, James Loye, Peter Howe, Michael Therriault and Malcolm Storry, director and co-writer Matthew Warchus, designer Rob Howell, illusionist Paul Kieve and other first night guests including Tamzin Outhwaite, Arlene Phillips and former Billy Elliot James Lomas.

Since its Canadian try-out in spring 2006, The Lord of the Rings has been substantially revised and the running time shorted by 40 minutes to just over three hours. The Lord of the Rings 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). It’s directed by Warchus, with design by Rob Howell and choreography by Peter Darling.

The 50-strong company is led by: James Loye (as Hobbit hero Frodo), Peter Howe (Sam), Michael Therriault (Gollum), Malcolm Storry (Gandalf), Jerome Pradon (Aragorn), Rosalie Craig (Arwen), Steven Miller (Boromir), Michael Rouse (Legolas), Sevan Stephan (Gimli), Richard Henders (Merry), Owen Sharpe (Pippin), Brian Protheroe (Saruman) and Laura Michelle Kelly (Galadriel).

- by Terri Paddock


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