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Tom Bombadil: live in concert? - John C. Kirk

Jul. 3rd, 2008

01:16 am - Tom Bombadil: live in concert?

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Well, it's been a pretty good couple of days.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was my birthday, so I took the day off work. I had a lie-in, went to Pizza Hut for their "all you can eat" buffet lunch, watched One of our Dinosaurs is Missing in the afternoon, then went off to see The Lord of the Rings (on stage) in the evening.

I was a bit dubious about turning LotR into a musical. When I read the books, I tended to skim over the epic poems; as for the films, I liked the orchestral music (particularly the "signature" bars), but I didn't really feel that it lacked vocals. Still, the songs grew on me, and I particularly liked "sit by the fire" (I'm not sure of its proper name). It's quite a long performance (about 3 hours), but that's still shorter than the films, so they've had to chop quite a few bits out; for instance, Faramir doesn't appear at all. I wondered whether they'd take the opportunity to introduce Tom Bombadil; they didn't, but Gandalf mentioned him in passing.

The stage version certainly has a lot in common with the films. For instance, Arwen has a fairly big role. On the other hand, the ending has more in common with the books, which some people will appreciate. It seemed slightly odd at first to have a different cast in familiar roles, but I got used to that pretty quickly. The only problem was with one of Aragorn's lines: Viggo Mortensen delivered it with real intensity in the film, which impressed me, whereas the stage actor just recited it perfunctorily as if it was a formality.

More generally, I was very impressed by the visual effects: they're really pushing the boundaries of what you can achieve in a live performance. They were imaginative in the wire work, and they handled a couple of scenes really well which I'd assumed would be impossible. I was sitting in the back row of the stalls, so my view of the stage was slightly limited: the balcony was blocking my view of the top half. However, that wasn't a problem for most of the performance, and if you sit a bit further forward (or higher up) then you'll be fine.

All in all, I recommend watching it, particularly as it's closing down in a couple of weeks.

Tonight I went off to see Prince Caspian, which I enjoyed. It's quite long (2½ hours), and I think they could have trimmed it down a bit, but it's definitely worth watching if you liked the books and the previous film. In particular, they've added a bit of character development for Susan: it doesn't contradict anything in the books, but it offers a more sympathetic interpretation of a certain event in "The Last Battle".

On a vaguely related note, I see that "Mamma Mia" will soon be out in cinemas and on stage at the same time; I'm curious about what effect this will have on ticket sales. I'd certainly like to see some version of it when I get the chance.

By the way, I've tried to avoid spoilers in this post, but I'm happy to go into specifics in the comments.