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‘No singing Hobbits’ in ‘Rings’ musical

Producer promises traditional music, ethnic traditions
/ Source: Reuters

After setting film box office records around the world, “The Lord of the Rings” is to take to the stage next year as a musical, the producers announced to Reuters on Tuesday.

The show, based on the fantasy classic by J.R.R. Tolkien, will open in March 2006 in Toronto and come to London six months later.

But the producers have promised to go back to the original tale of Middle Earth without trying to reproduce the dazzling special effects from the movie trilogy, which grossed $3 billion at the box office worldwide and garnered a string of Oscars.

“We are ultimately dependent on 50 actors and musicians to tell the story rather than technology,” producer Kevin Wallace said as he unveiled details of the 27 million Canadian dollar (11.5 million pound) musical.

“We are going to have to break new ground. It is a hybrid of text, music, spectacle and physical theater,” he added.

Eager to quell the fears of devoted Tolkien purists who dreaded the classic being transformed into a showbiz extravaganza, he said: “There will be no singing and dancing Hobbits. The music will be in a very traditional mold and draw on ethnic traditions.”

The production boasts an international pedigree.

The music is being written by A.R. Rahman, the Bollywood film composer who scored a hit in London with the stage musical “Bombay Dreams.” He is working in conjunction with the Finnish group Varttina.

The musical’s British director is Matthew Warchus, best known for staging the worldwide stage hit “Art.”

Wallace, an Irishman, is producing the show with flamboyant Canadian theatrical impresarios David and “Honest” Ed Mirvish.

The original plan was to launch the show in London, but theaters in the British capital are so crammed with hit musicals like “The Producers” and “Mary Poppins” that they opted for Toronto instead.

New Zealand film director Peter Jackson spent 10 years bringing the trilogy to the screen.

He was greeted with critical acclaim and dubbed “The King of the Rings” for telling the epic struggle for control of Middle Earth by hobbits, humans, wizards and bloodthirsty orcs.

The producers have so far spent four years working on the stage musical, which they hope to take to Broadway after the Toronto premiere and the London opening.