Previewed 9 May 2007, Opened 19 June 2007, Closed 19 July 2008 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London
A major new stage musical version of Lord of the Rings in London adapted from the JRR Tolkien trilogy and written by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus and featuring a score by India's most popular composer A.R. Rahman and the renowned Finnish group Värttinä, collaborating with Christopher Nightingale.
An amazing live event, filled with jaw-dropping theatricality, that transports you to middle-earth as breathtaking special effects, thrilling music and dazzling performances fill the Drury Lane Theatre. Lord of the Rings is comes London following its World Premiere at The Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, Canada in March 2006.
This production is directed by Matthew Warchus with designs by Rob Howell and choreography by Peter Darling. The producer of The Lord of the Rings stage musical, Kevin Wallace, said: "It pushes the boundaries of what people expect to see in a theatre. It does have a wow factor and it has gone down amazingly in Canada... it's a hybrid, a musical play performed on an operatic scale with a lot of physical theatre."
"There is an obvious problem with compressing such a huge story into three hours. Tolkien said, with teasing, donnish humour, that the only fault with The Lord of the Rings was that it wasn't nearly long enough. Whether true of the book or not, it is certainly true of the stage version. There is no time for character development or emotion. When Frodo says, 'I will go - though I do not know the way', it should wring the heart. Here, you barely notice it. Special effects weigh in instead, as in an expensive popcorn movie - and the human touch is lost." The Sunday Times
"How remarkable that the most expensive musical ever should succeed only in shrinking the beloved Tolkien doorstep The Lord Of The Rings into a dot-to-dot account for the under-sixes with supersonic popup illustrations in the style of Arthur Rackham. Essentially, Tolkien's grand and magical narrative uses fantasy and mythology to explore the fundamental battle between good and evil. This £12.5 million infantile travesty by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus (who also directs) reduces it to the trials of a handful of morris-dancing midgets... Set designer Rob Howell's shifting levels of the stage keeps the landscapeever-changing; Paul Pyant does astonishing things with lights. But there's no drama, just bafflement and boredom punctuated by moments of admittedly awesome spectacle and some quite special special effects, though nothing one hasn't seen before... But there is very little to sing about. Certainly not the music, created by a Finnish folk ensemble and Bollywood composer A. R. Rahman, which perhaps explains the mix of Celtic ballads and plaintive Eastern tunelessness, not improved for lyrics sung in Elvish or something similarly incomprehensible. Moody, but not memorable. Nevertheless, the attention to the tiniest detail is truly amazing: Lady Galadriel's 'shoes' are high platforms apparently fashioned from tree roots. She may not need them for long. A lamentable waste of time and talent." The Mail on Sunday
"You've never seen spectacle like it. Trouble is, you can't come out of the theatre humming spectacle. For fans of JRR Tolkien's books and the hugely successful film trilogy, there are wizard wizards, spooky Black Riders, magical elves, spring-heeled orcs, stilt-walking, tree-like ents and a scary, 40ft-wide spider. But where are the songs? The music is written by the Indian A R Rahman and Finnish folk group Varttina so one might have guessed it wouldn't threaten Andrew Lloyd Webber. But the melodies are almost tune-free, consisting of little but lush and very loud moody themes with crashing crescendos. And the lyrics, written by Shaun McKenna and the show's director Matthew Warchus, aren't up to much, although so swamped are they by the 17-strong pit band that it's difficult to tell. What's more, despite the occasional services of an unseen narrator, the complicated story requires further long-winded explanation." The Sun
The Lord of the Rings finishes its run at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London on 19 July 2008 after 492 performances having played to an audience of over 700,000. Producer Kevin Wallace said: "The show's creative team has proven just how enchanting, exhilarating and powerfully entertaining The Lord of the Rings can be live on stage. We will continue to bring this incredible theatrical event to audiences in London until 19 July 2008, and we look forward to presenting the show to new audiences abroad from 2009." Discussions are currently under way for the production to re-open in Germany in November 2009 with a German-speaking cast. In addition the Lords of the Rings creative team are also developing a touring version to launch in New Zealand in 2009 before being presented in cities across Australia and the Far East.
"The parade of images in Matthew Warchus's production of The Lord of the Rings at The Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto is ceaseless and astonishing. The Black Riders are truly terrifying... The Ents, on stilts and held up by wires, do a superb job of looking like trees. The stage itself is a spectacle, constantly moving up, down and around, splitting apart and coming together again... This show, reputedly the most expensive ever, has spent its millions wisely. Practically too, as devices work strictly to serve the story... In this show the human element fights hard and sometimes wins, but the mechanical element, which is after all a human invention, is wonderful." The Guardian (Canadian Premiere - 2006)
"On the whole, it works, without resorting to the slick but soulless spectacle of Cirque du Soleil, or declining into Gothic cliche... The stage version's great strength lies in the way its constituent parts combine in an organic whole... Rob Howell's designs, exquisitely lit by Paul Pyant, are achieved with uncluttered economy rather than hi-tech wizardry... Visually, the show's rough-theatre aesthetic is put to dazzlingly inventive use... With some fine tuning, this tale could hold its audience in total thrall. For now, its best moments are, like the ring, an intoxicating enchantment." The Times (Canadian Premiere - 2006)
Lord of the Rings in London at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane previewed from 9 May 2007, opened on 19 June 2007 and closed on 19 July 2008.