Kelly Nestruck has seen, and reviewed, the Lord of the Rings musical; he’s got a post that rounds up the opening reviews of this show, which are mixed. (Update: See also the Toronto Star’s point that it may be a critic-proof show.) His take, in a nutshell, is that the problems stem from the play being too ambitious:
There’s no doubt that the show has many problems. They all stem from one large one, though, it seems to me: Too much ambition. Too much of a desire to be innovative both technically and artistically. Too much respect, even reverence, for the source material. I had nowhere near as much fun as I did watching, say, The Producers, but I found elements of this show much more interesting, challenging, and beautiful. And this is coming from someone who is by no means a fan of the books and movies.
The idea of putting the entire 1,000 page Lord of the Rings trilogy onstage in one musical evening is an insane one. And the fact that it worked at all, when it was initially seen as pure folly or the punchline to a joke, is a triumph of sorts.
I’m looking forward to hear what Jennifer thinks about it when she sees it next month.