You cannot come to this musical if you think Oklahoma is the epitome of musical theatre. “It’s not for you!” This movie is all about spectacle. One of the greatest things about it is that it does for me what Lion King could never do: tell me a story that I love AND blow me away with technical wizardry. As a matter of fact, this show takes at least two technologies from Lion King and heartily improves them: the turntable with rising platforms (17 elevators!) and extended legs/arms to alter the human gait (movement pattern). The show is 3 1/2 hours long with one 15 minute intermission and one 3 minute intermission. My biggest complaint is that there are several subplots/moments from the books/movies that I wanted reproduced and didn’t get, leading me to whine a little. Actually while these missing moments made me shake my head in wonder, it didn’t completely remove me from the performance. Lion King added stuff, irrevocably severing it from the source material which I hold very dear to my heart. What LOTR did was present the source materials, live and on stage. The spectacle was absolutely incredible. The music sounded very authentic (meaning it all sounded like music from Tolkien’s universe) and no Gollum did not get up and do the schizophrenia tap number. He was an incredible performer though. Writhing about on stage…he was definitely the most physical actor on the stage. It was almost a kind of break dance except more psychotic. There was lots of flying and lots of people on stilts. One of the coolest effects was the climb up to Lothlorien, the elfish tree city. They started climbing a robe ladder, and then the floor sunk and they climbed up the ladder to the ground level.
The soundtrack doesn’t exist! I am so pissed off! The music was very beautiful. The song Sam and Frodo sing about the Shire when they’re in Mordor still echo’s in my head. Then again, I have no idea how different what I saw was from what opened here in April (or was it May?), and I will never know how different what I saw will be from the soundtrack released in London. “This will be a cut and reworked version with more music and we have edited out some of the sub-plot,” (The Age.com) says producer Kevin Wallace who blamed Toronto’s “failure” on the critics and the fact that American tourists don’t understand British sensibilities. Yeah, that’s why Harry Potter doesn’t sell millions of copies. I personally think that the show works fine as it is…I mean, I can gripe all I want about missing subplots (the biggest of which is Gandalf’s miraculous appearance at Helm’s Deep…they never find him in the forest so it is quite miraculous), but the show works really well, despite it’s length. The only possible way they should cut it is in the beginning. They spend the first two hours on The Fellowship of the Ring…I’d like to imagine that they could cut the show to three hours or less if they trimmed that section just here and there. But what the hell do I know?