THE LORD OF THE RINGS Musical Company Celebrates Bilbo and Frodo's Birthday, as The Show Sells Out at The Watermill Theatre

The musical will end its run on Sunday 15 October 2023. 

By: Sep. 22, 2023
THE LORD OF THE RINGS Musical Company Celebrates Bilbo and Frodo's Birthday, as The Show Sells Out at The Watermill Theatre

As the company celebrate Bilbo and Frodo Baggins' official birthdays, Artistic Director Paul Hart, Executive Director Claire Murray, and the whole team at Newbury's The Watermill Theatre have announced that their production of THE LORD OF THE RINGS has officially sold out, with over 17,000 tickets sold to national and international audiences over its 12-week run, with over 47% of the audience first time visitors to the theatre.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS, a musical tale based on the classic trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, with book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus and music by Oscar and BAFTA Award winner A.R. Rahman (Bombay Dreams, Slumdog Millionaire), Värttinä and Tony Award winner and Grammy nominated Christopher Nightingale (Matilda the Musical) is the largest-scale production The Watermill has ever produced and will end its run on Sunday 15 October 2023. 

With a cast of 21 actors who rehearsed for 6 weeks (double the usual rehearsal time), the show had 20 technical sessions to bring the show across two stages, one in the auditorium and the other in the gardens. The cast are supported by a team of 32 across backstage, technical, Front of House and Box Office.

As the Hobbits celebrate Bilbo Baggins' eleventy-first birthday, he gifts his nephew Frodo his inheritance – including his most precious belonging – a gold ring. Little does he know that his legacy will confront Frodo with an immense and impossible task; a perilous journey across the darkest realms of Mordor to foil the Dark Lord's quest for total dominion.

Executive Director Claire Murray said, “The Lord of the Rings is an epic production, that perfectly reflects the quality and ambition of The Watermill's work. Despite a 100% cut to our funding, we are committed to creating world class productions and engaging with our communities in ways that have the greatest impact on their quality of life.  

As we move forward without statutory funding, it's vital that we explore how we can grow our income and reach more people. This show has seen us transform our beautiful site, creating an immersive experience that includes the expansion of our catering operation. We are also pleased to welcome 17,000 people to the theatre over the 12-week run, around half of whom are visiting for the first time and many from across the globe. 

This is the beginning of a new chapter for The Watermill, and I'm pleased to say the success of The Lord of The Rings and the support we've had from audiences over these last few months, allows us to make exciting plans and look to the future with confidence.”

Artistic Director of The Watermill, and director of The Lord of the Rings, Paul Hart, said “The remarkable thing about working on this show has been seeing how audiences really have taken it to their hearts. People have really bought into the idea of the story being retold through the perspective of the Hobbits and love that sense of immersion when playing games and interacting in the pre-show.  This birthday performance is very special as the idea of Bilbo's passing down his story to the future generations is crucial to this version, and his birthday is the catalyst for everything that happens in this epic story.

We are really excited – not only to see how we might share this magical story with audiences in the future, but also to welcome back those who've discovered our beautiful theatre and gardens through The Lord of the Rings for them to discover future shows and experiences.”

Kevin Wallace of KWL said, “There has been nothing better this summer than joining audiences to experience Paul Hart and his creative team's exhilarating production of The Lord of the Rings – A Musical Tale, performed by a remarkable company of actor-musicians supported by the ever resourceful and dedicated team at The Watermill Theatre.”

Fredrica Drotos, of Embracer/Freemode's Middle-earth Enterprises added; “In celebrating Bilbo and Frodo Baggins' birthdays today, we also celebrate the ingenuity and creativity in The Watermill Theatre's bucolic corner of the Shire, and congratulate the entire band of Hobbits, on their unique and beautiful telling of this epic story.”

The Lord of the Rings is directed by Paul Hart with design by Simon Kenny, Musical Supervision and Orchestrations by Mark Aspinall, Choreography by Anjali Mehra, Lighting Design by Rory Beaton, Sound Design by Adam Fisher, Projection Design by George Reeve, Associate Directed by Sibylla Archdale Kalid, Puppet Design by Charlie Tymms, Puppetry Direction by Ashleigh Cheadle and Fight Direction by Dani McCallum. The stage management team are Cat Pewsey (CSM), Katie Newton (DSM), Natalie Toney and Fern Bamber (ASMs) with Leila Stephenson (ASM Placement).

The full cast are Folarin Akinmade (Perfect Show for Rachel – The Pit, Barbican) as 'Gimli', Patrick Bridgman (The Crown - Netflix) as 'Understudy Gandalf / Saruman / Bilbo', Matthew Bugg (Zorro the Musical – Charing Cross Theatre) as 'Gollum', Reece Causton (Matthew Bourne's The Car Man – UK Tour) as 'Ensemble', Kelly Coughlin (Avenue 5 – HBO/Sky) as 'Ensemble', Geraint Downing (A Christmas Carol – The Old Vic Theatre) as 'Merry', Peter Dukes (Brief Encounter – Empire, Haymarket) as 'Boromir', Amelia Gabriel (Ride – VAULT Festival) as 'Pippin', Tom Giles (Miss Littlewood – Royal Shakespeare Company) as 'Elrond/Saruman', Charlotte Grayson (Whistle Down The Wind – The Watermill Theatre) as 'Rosie', Nuwan Hugh Perera (Life of Pi – Wyndham's Theatre, West End) as 'Sam', Bridget Lappin (The Rhinegold – English National Opera) as 'Ensemble/Dance Captain', Elliot Mackenzie (Whistle Down The Wind – The Watermill Theatre) as 'Ensemble', Peter Marinker (Judge Dredd, Love, Actually, Labyrinth) as 'Gandalf', Louis Maskell (The Grinning Man – Bristol Old Vic & Trafalgar Studios, West End) as 'Frodo', Zara Naeem as 'Ensemble' (Rumi: The Musical – London Coliseum), Aoife O'Dea (Innocence – Royal Opera House) as 'Arwen', John O'Mahony (Fisherman's Friends the Musical, UK Tour) as 'Bilbo', Yazdan Qafouri (The Band – Theatre Royal Haymarket, West End) as 'Legolas', Sioned Saunders (Amélie - Criterion Theatre, West End & The Watermill Theatre) as 'Galadriel/Onstage Musical Director' and Aaron Sidwell (EastEnders – BBC, Wicked – UK Tour) as 'Aragorn'.

The Watermill is a 200-seat regional powerhouse, with an unparalleled reputation for producing bold, world-class theatre with local and national reach from its home in West Berkshire. It also has an extensive programme of community outreach, and schools touring work, and a firm commitment to inclusion, environmental sustainability and talent development. 

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