Lord of the Rings stage version opens to ho-hum reviews

Mar 24, 2006 by Ian Evans

The $28 million stage version of The Lord of the Rings opened last night in Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre. Reviews for the world premiere were less than dazzling:

  • “…bored of the rings” – Richard Ouzounian, The Toronto Star
  • “It should come with an elf warning” – Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph
  • “Everyone and everything winds up lost in this $25 million adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s cult-inspiring trilogy of fantasy novels. That includes plot, character and the patience of most ordinary theatergoers.” – Ben Brantley, The New York Times
  • “Spectacular, yes, but boring.” – Lynn Slotkin, The Hollywood Reporter
  • “…cast members are so underwhelming they might as well have been replaced by holograms. An exception is [Michael] Therriault’s free-spirited Gollum, but even he overplays the character’s humour at the expense of its dark side.” – Kamal Al-Solyalee, Globe & Mail
  • “Lavish Yet Disappointing” – Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press
  • “…an emotionally hollow behemoth intently focused on ticking off its storyboard checklist. It hurtles through 1,000 pages of plot soup without pausing to investigate the heart of the beloved tale or its multispecies characters.” – David Rooney, Variety

There are some positives. John McKay of The Canadian Press said that, “From whimsical to magical and majestic, the $27-million stage production of Lord of the Rings is lavishly designed to appeal to Rings newcomers as well as diehard fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy” while Sam Marlowe of The London Times acknowledged some flaws but added that “Its best moments are, like the ring, an intoxicating enchantment.”

The London-based producers of the show are downplaying the bad reviews. They feel that the series has an enormous fan base and the show’s associate producer, Toronto’s David Mirvish added that over 180,000 tickets have been sold so far — 80,000 of them to people outside of Toronto.