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Major Roles Cast in Toronto Lord of the Rings Musical

A number of major roles in the Toronto premiere of The Lord of the Rings have been cast, according to the Toronto Star.

The Tolkien-based megamusical, which will open on March 23rd, 2006 after beginning previews in February, reportedly now has a Gollum, Aragorn, Arwen, Saruman, Legolas, Merry, Boromir and Elrond. However, "Producer Kevin Wallace and spokespeople for the Mirvish organization refused to confirm or deny these reports."

Michel Therriault will play Gollum, the shrivelled ex-hobbit with eyes on the ring around which the musical centers. Therriault currently plays Motel the Tailor in Broadway's Fiddler on the Roof, and has also appeared in the Toronto production of The Producers as well as in several shows in the prestigious Stratford Festival. Evan Buliung has been placed in the heroic role of Aragorn; the actor can currently be seen in and Journey's End and Major Barbara at the Shaw Festival. He too has acted at Stratford, and played Edgar to Christopher Plummer's King Lear. Carly Street will play his Elvish love interest Arwen; she is a National Theatre School graduate who has spoken the words of Shakespeare at the High Park and Newmarket outdoor summer theatres. The dark wizard Saruman will be portrayed by Richard McMillan, who also scared the little children in the audience as Scar in the Toronto production of The Lion King; he is also no stranger to the Stratford Festival.

Legolas, the strapping young elf, will be play by Gabriel Burrafato, who has appeared at the Shaw Festival, at Stratford and who currently tours as Magaldi in the national company of Evita after having been seen in Broadway's Bombay Dreams. The role of the mischievous hobbit Merry has gone to Dylan Roberts, who can currently be seen in ShakespeareWorks' The Taming of the Shrew, while the part of the noble but ring-corrupted Boromir has been awarded to Dion Johnstone, who is a Stratford company member and who currently plays Orlando in the theatre festival's As You Like It. Finally, Victor A. Young will appear as Elrond, the stalwart father of Arwen; Young has performed in Kiss Me Kate at Stratford and Crazy for You for Mirvish Productions, among many others.

While the rumors are only at buzz pitch right now and nothing has been confirmed, theatre wags are saying that Brent Carver (Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Parade) might be one of the actors to headline The Lord of the Rings; the actor is currently appearing in Soulpepper's The Wild Duck.

Kerry Dorey, Peter Huck, Chilina Kennedy, Monique Lund, Erin Mackie, Tyler Murray, Danny Pathan, Sean Robertson, Louise St. Cyr, Vincent Tong and Shawn Wright will also take on roles in the epic musical, while such pivotal roles as Frodo, Sam, Gandalf and Galadriel have yet to find actors to inhabit them. A number of British actors are expected to be enlisted for the show, which will feature a 55-member cast; Canadian Actor's Equity has allowed five. Rehearsals are scheduled to begin in October.

Having pulled in $7 million dollars in the first week of ticket sales, the show's $27 million budget is very likely not only to be recouped, but to be surpassed in profits. The Lord of the Rings is the largest production in Toronto's history.

The 3-and-a half-hour musical condensation of Tolkien's hobbits-and-elves trilogy is directed by Matthew Warchus (with Alisa Palmer as resident director), and produced by Wallace and Saul Zaentz, in association with David and Ed Mirvish and Michael Cohl. The Lord of the Rings also features music by A.R. Rahman (along with the Finnish group Varrtina), and the book and lyrics are by Shaun McKenna. Rob Howell's elaborate sets will feature "three interconnected turntables containing 16 elevators;" he will also design the costumes. The creative team spent 4 years developing the show.  Simon Baker (sound), The Gray Circle (moving image design), Paul Kieve (illusions direction), Laurie Battle (Tolkien creative consultation), and Christopher Nightingale (musical supervision) comprise the rest of the production staff.

Ticket prices range from $44 to $99 ($56-$125 in Canadian dollars). Visit www.lotr.com for more information, or call TicketKing at (416) 872-1212 or (800) 461-3333. The numbers for group inquiries are (416) 593-4142 or (800) 724-6420.


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