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Last Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006, 19:17 GMT
Critics unmoved by Rings musical
Dion Johnson (Boromir), Evan Buliung (Strider) from the World Premiere production of The Lord of the Rings
The show has a cast of 55, including Evan Buliung (right)
A $25m (14m) stage musical version of The Lord of the Rings has failed to impress theatre critics after its premiere in Toronto, Canada.

Most reviewers said the show, which runs to almost four hours, did not live up to expectations.

The Toronto Star described it as "dull", while the Toronto Sun said it "falls victim to its own hype".

But the granddaughter of author JRR Tolkien praised it for staying true to his classic tale.

No one emerges with head unmuddled, eyes unblurred or eardrums unrattled
Ben Brantley, New York Times

Rachel Tolkien said: "Everything to me that is the most important, and the most moving in the book, they've gotten on the stage.

"I think it's an amazing feat to have made The Lord of the Rings in three-and-a-half hours."

The musical, which condenses JRR Tolkien's entire Rings saga into one evening, took four years to reach the stage and is reportedly the world's most expensive theatre production.

The Toronto Globe and Mail said it was "a pale imitation of the books, the films and, tragically, theatre itself".

Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus
Shaun McKenna (left) and Matthew Warchus wrote the musical
The New York Times critic Ben Brantley said it was "largely incomprehensible".

"No-one emerges with head unmuddled, eyes unblurred or eardrums unrattled," he wrote.

"Yet for all the technology, the show's look is often reminiscent of an arts and crafts fair."

The UK's Daily Telegraph called it "insufferably twee". It said: "It just goes to prove that you can't always solve a problem by chucking money at it."

The first preview performance was postponed for two days, while drastic cuts have reportedly been made in order to achieve the current running time.

London plans

Producers chose to open the show at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto after failing to find a suitable venue in London.

The show is expected to move to the capital's Dominion Theatre early next year.

The production stars Brent Carver as the wizard Gandalf, British actor James Loye as the hobbit Frodo and Michel Therriault as Gollum.

According to director Matthew Warchus, the musical - which has a cast of 55, uses 17 elevators and features 500 pieces of armour - is "like ten shows in one".

"It's got aerial sequences. It's got a moving floor. It's got some of the most complicated technology ever used," he said.

Curtain up for Rings stage show
23 Mar 06 |  Entertainment
Rings musical preview postponed
02 Feb 06 |  Entertainment
Investing in Middle Earth
27 Oct 05 |  Arts

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