Theatre News

The Lord of the Rings musical to be revived in ‘semi-immersive’ production this summer 

The musical is set to return! 

The Lord of the Rings musical text Watermill Theatre

The Lord of the Rings musical will be revived in an “epic and intimate immersive” production this summer. 

The show, which was first seen in Toronto in 2006 ahead of a West End premiere the subsequent year, is based on the classic trilogy by J R R Tolkien about a group of Hobbits who attempt to destroy a piece of malevolent jewelry.  The series of novels was adapted into three record-breaking films in the early 21st century. 

The stage show has book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus and music by A R Rahman (Bombay DreamsSlumdog Millionaire), Finnish folk band Värttinä and Tony Award winner and Grammy-nominated Christopher Nightingale (Matilda the Musical). 

In an original production, designed by Simon Kenny, at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, audiences will follow the story across the venue’s auditorium and garden spaces. The revival will feature an ensemble cast and large-scale puppets, with full company and creative team to be revealed. 

The venue’s director Paul Hart, who helms the new production, said today:  “We are thrilled to be bringing Bag End to Bagnor this summer with one of the most epic stories ever written.  Our production of The Lord of the Rings will take audiences from the lush idyll of the Shire in our gardens to the darkest depths of the Cracks of Doom. You may be wondering how we’re going to fit this huge show in our 200-seat theatre – come and witness the impossible!”

The Watermill was recently removed from the Arts Council’s National Portfolio, though the move has only emboldened its senior team. 

Executive director Claire Murray added: “Staging The Lord of the Rings reflects that our ambition hasn’t been diminished by the loss of Arts Council England funding. We’re continuing to invest in the work on our stages, in the talented artists who create this work and in reaching and connecting with audiences locally and nationally.

“To enable this, we’re continuing to review our business model and we’re pleased to say that we’re able to offer 28 per cent of the tickets for the show for only £25, with priority on sales for Friends and email subscribers.  With a 12-week long run, we can’t wait to welcome more people than ever to our unique and magical site to experience this epic story.”

Fredrica Drotos, director of brand and licensing at Middle-earth Enterprises commented: “Middle-earth Enterprises along with Kevin Wallace can’t imagine a more fitting locale for the live staging of the Fellowship’s epic adventures from the Shire to Mordor, and back again, than at the Watermill Theatre, set in the bucolic Berkshire countryside.”

The show is set to play from 25 July to 15 October, with tickets going on sale to the venue’s friends from 15 March, and general on-sale from 22 March. Hart recently said in interviews that the production is more likely to be ‘semi-immersive’, though audiences can expect to explore both the venue and its surrounding grounds. 

The Watermill has excellent run of form in providing bold and revivifying takes on existing work – following their award-nominated adaptation of Amélie, which ran on tour and in the West End.