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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Mixed reception for Rings musical
Laura Michelle Kelly as Galadriel in the Lord of the Rings musical
Poppins star Laura Michelle Kelly plays elf queen Galadriel
Critics were left largely unimpressed at the opening night of the Lord of the Rings musical on the London stage.

The Daily Telegraph's Charles Spencer branded the 12.5m production "a thumping great flop", while The Sun's Bill Hagerty labelled it "tune-free".

But the show gained some supporters, with Times critic Sam Marlowe calling the musical "a wonder". "Prepare for enchantment," she added.

The show debuted in Toronto in 2006 but closed early amid poor ticket sales.

The lukewarm reception saw the Canadian production re-worked ahead of its London opening, losing 45 minutes from its original three-hour running time.

The product here is more reminisent of TV's Xena Warrior Princess
Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

But the revamp was not enough to satisfy many of the British critics, who attended opening night at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

"Overblown, over-orchestrated and now over here," quipped The Sun's Mr Hagerty of the JRR Tolkien adaptation.

The Independent's Paul Taylor labelled it it "a show with a bit of an identity crisis, strong on dynamic spectacle, squeezed as a drama".

"Viewed as a piece of music drama, this show is unlikely to blow you away," he concluded.

Lord of the Rings musical
Critics praised the dramatic costumes and special effects

"Quite unintentionally The Lord of the Rings may be the funniest show of the year," wrote the Daily Mail's Quentin Letts.

"The product here is more reminiscent of TV's Xena Warrior Princess," he added.

The production, which features a cast of 50 actors and acrobats and took three years to reach the stage, is reportedly the most expensive production in West End history.

Lord Lloyd Webber, Dame Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey were among those attending the London premiere on Tuesday.

'Stage spectacle'

Most critics were fulsome in their praise of Canadian actor Michael Therriault in the role of Gollum, and plaudits were given to the performances of Peter Howe and James Loye, as Sam and Frodo.

But despite spectacular special effects, most critics felt the production fell flat on narrative and characterisation.

The show has charm, wit and jaw-dropping theatrical brio
Sam Marlowe, The Times

"Repeatedly during this show you feel its creators have more money than either sense or imagination," said the Telegraph's Mr Spencer.

Yet while The Guardian's Michael Billington acknowledged the "blandness of some lyrics", he emerged "hugely impressed".

"If Tolkien's trilogy is to be a stage spectacle, I don't see how it could be better done," he wrote.

And Times critic Sam Marlowe maintained: "The show has charm, wit and jaw-dropping theatrical brio; crucially it also has real emotional heft."


SEE ALSO
Lord of the Rings musical opens
19 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Rings musical halted by accident
31 May 07 |  Entertainment
The West End meets Middle-earth
09 May 07 |  Entertainment
Rings musical unveils London cast
15 Jan 07 |  Entertainment
Critics unmoved by Rings musical
24 Mar 06 |  Entertainment

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