J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings saga has found success on both the big and small screens over the last 20+ years. But in 2006, a stage musical based on the books had its world premiere in Toronto before making its way across the pond to London’s West End a year later. Now, the project is getting revived in an open-air setting. According to Deadline, a new production of The Lord of the Rings musical will debut at Berkshire’s Watermill Theatre in the United Kingdom.
The original show featured a book and lyrics written by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus, the latter of whom recently directed Matilda the Musical. Oscar winner A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire) and Christopher Nightingale wrote the music alongside Finnish folk group Värttinä. The musical unfolded across three acts that adapted the entirety of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. By the time it premiered, it also achieved notoriety as the most expensive stage production in history. However, its lukewarm reviews couldn’t justify its hefty price tag or its three-and-a-half-hour-long runtime, which ultimately led to its closure in 2008.
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Regardless, the producers behind the upcoming revival are hoping to take advantage of the Watermill’s riverside environment to create a “semi-immersive” production experience. The show’s beginning and ending will have outdoor sections, while everything in between will be performed inside the theater. As Deadline notes, Berkshire also happens to be adjacent to Oxfordshire, where Tolkein began writing his original LOTR novels.
Apparently, the new version of the musical has been in the works for two years. But whereas the initial run featured 65 cast members, the revival will pare things down to just 20 performers. The casting process officially starts today.
The Lord of the Rings kicks off its first of 12 planned shows at the Watermill Theatre on July 25. Tickets will be available starting on March 15.
What do you think of the Watermill’s plans for the musical? Let us know in the comment section below!
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