I've read about a dozen reviews -- in part or in whole -- of the Canadian premiere of The Lord of the Rings. The verdict is mixed, but positive. It's not an overwhelming triumph, but spectacle-wise, the show is clearly innovative and stunning and gets compared again and again to The Lion King. (The Lion King, if you haven't seen it, is a marvelous stage production using every imaginable form of puppetry to bring that story to life. It's the best production of the worst musical I've ever seen and well worth catching once, with or without kiddies in tow.) LOTR is not a standard musical, it turns out. The characters in the show -- like the characters in the book, sometimes sing while marching along or at a party or just to keep their spirits up. So there's no dreadful Frodo moment where he sings "The ring! Is a beautiful thing! It makes me want to sing!" Like an opera, the story is chock full of incident and you're clearly better of if you know the story (or at least read the synopsis). It's very mood-setting, with hobbits gamboling about for 15 minutes before the curtain rises. The battle scenes are spectacular, Gollum steals the show and they even include the Scouring of the Shire, a wise cut in the movies that they probably should have cut here too. In short, I won't be happy till I've seen it but I imagine it's a bit short of the movies and the brilliant BBC radio play. Oh, and the NYT is scathing, but this is one pre-sold show that doesn't need their seal of approval.
NOTE: My bad: well-chosen early quotes by the PR people and another off-target review from Time magazine (which named the dreadful Chicken Little animated movie as a sheer delight) led me astray. (So did my desire to hear good things.) After some more trawling and reading strongly negative reviews from the NYT and Guardian and the LA Times and the Globe and Mail, I have to say the reviews are NOT mixed -- they're pretty strongly negative, with only a few kind words for the spectacle aspect and -- at most -- one or two of the supporting actors. I imagine the creators feel shell-shocked. Can they pull it together to recast and rethink it before London?