Off to Mordor With You

I wonder who looked at the short and stubby Hobbits and thought, “what it would be like if they could sing Broadway tunes?” It must have been the same person who turned The Lord of the Rings into one of the most expensive plays ever made and then staged into Toronto.

So can three novels, which took Peter Jackson nine hours to film, be squeezed into a three and a half hour play? Sure, but it won’t make much sense. It had been awhile since I had read the books (high school to be precise) but I have seen the movies more than once. Despite that I felt a little lost during the production which was simultaneously too long and too short. Vast swaths of story had to culled, only to make room for the aforementioned singing Hobbits. Anyone who didn’t know the story would have absolutely no idea what was going on. Of course I doubt few who weren’t already versed in the lore would bother attending, which may in part explain why it is shutting down tomorrow and moving to London.

When the cancellation was announced back in June, producer Kevin Wallace laid the blame squarely at the feet of critics who said much the same as I have. They were right, but the same message would have gotten out by word of mouth, so let’s not shoot the messenger. Visually, it was quite a sight. The production makes ample use of a massive, moving stage to recreate mountains and forests and hundred of costumes to represent multitudes of characters and warriors. While impressive, the theatrical aspects were underused in order to make room for musical numbers.

They took a huge risk launching this in Toronto, which is not a huge theatre town, at least in terms of multi-million dollar extravaganzas. Now that it is closing, I’m hoping a sub-par production is not blamed on the city.


  1. Hell, the source material for the novels took 4 3.5-4 hour nights to watch on the stage.

    I guess they learned nothing from Wagner, did they.

  2. Thanks for posting this. As a huge Tolkien fan I was curious about the play. I was also very, very sceptical. Quite frankly I couldn't see how they could fit a three volume novel into a few hours.

  3. Today the producer who blamed the critics for harming the show and implying Toronto audiences just didn't get it, admitted that the show wasn't ready when it debuted. "There is no doubt now that when we opened in Toronto, we were only a third through the process ... only you couldn't tell yourself that, or you'd go mad." Get the rest at The Star:

  4. I sat through Lord of the Rings not that long ago. I think I'd have preferred a front row seat to the Joan Collins/Linda Evans "Legends" show.

    I really can't emphasize the suck value. London audiences will be charmed....if the London in question is located in South Western Ontario.

    Otherwise, it's going to provide some great "temp work," to a few actors.

  5. Could you imagine LOTR at the Grand Theatre? The little bitties that come in from Sarnia and Strathroy would love it!

    It sounds like the London version will be a completely different play, so perhaps will be "graced" with its touring cousin in the future.