An Unexpected Invitation

A large envelope dropped through our letterbox. Opening it revealed a card with the words "Your Invitation to Middle-Earth" written above a picture portraying the members of The Fellowship of the Ring, Arwen and Galadriel. It was an invitation from Kevin Wallace and Saul Zaentz to the London Premiere on Tuesday 19th June of The Lord of the Rings at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

We arrived at the theatre on 19th somewhat hot as we’d just travelled up from Birmingham with just enough time to meet up with Rachael Livermore, who was kindly giving us accommodation for the night and attending the performance with us, and get to the theatre to pick up the tickets. Catherine Street was pretty crowded with a number of security people checking on whether you were actually attending the premiere or just standing around to see who was who. We picked up our tickets from the organiser and proceeded along the red carpet into the theatre. We were surprised to find that we had been given top price tickets and had a really good view of the stage, the surrounds of which had been covered in 'branches', which also took up some of the box areas. While waiting for the performance to start and while people were finding their seats, members of the cast acting as hobbits were roaming through the stalls and generally setting the mood for the show itself. We were in good company as Judy Dench and Andrew Lloyd Webber were both in the audience.

The show itself I found to be surprisingly good and in many cases kept more to the spirit of the story than the films did. Of course, I went along to see a show and not a true adaptation of the book, which would be impossible for a stage show. The actors worked very hard throughout the three hour performance and thoroughly deserved the standing ovation at the end of the show. Stand out things include a brilliant performance by Michael Therriault as Gollum, the black riders who, due to an excellent costume design and really good lighting, were both eerie and quite frightening, Shelob was definitely not something that arachnophobes wanted to see. I could go on but I'll not give away too many details.

It was an enjoyable evening and I was very pleased that, unlike the filmmakers, the producers of the stage show weren’t afraid to let the Tolkien Society have complimentary tickets.

Chris Crawshaw
Tolkien Society Chairman

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