EXCLUSIVE: Gandalf Responds to LOTR Brickbats!
I have asked Master Blackwolf to allow me time in his Diary of Magecraft to respond on behalf of my fellow Middle-earthers to the hostile reviews given to our stage production of Lord of the Rings at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto. First, let me state for the record that Brent Carver has done a masterful and incredible job portraying yours truly; I should mention that the performance, as powerful as it has been, not only is a stellar achievement, but, if I may, it may yet go a long way towards boosting my singing career! (Heh-heh!)
In any case, let me point out to all of you who have followed our journey towards making this remarkable show a reality that if there has been any one individual who has more to risk on this project than any other, it is Saul Zaentz. It goes without saying, I think, that Mr. Zaentz has practically worked his butt off to get back into the good graces of Tolkien fans everywhere --- because he knows that there are those who have vowed to go to their graves refusing to forgive him for having said yes to Ralph Bakshi and his ultimately ill-conceived animated adaptation of Lord of the Rings. The one-two punch of having his name in the credits of Peter Jackson's Oscar-winning movie trilogy, and then, having him on this show as its Presenter, has more than succeeded in winning Mr. Zaentz that forgiveness, as far as I'm concerned; and so, I think I and all our colleagues in Middle-earth, from Bilbo and Frodo, to Thorin, Gimli, Legolas, Aragorn and (dare I say it!) even Gollum, can look forward to continuing our long association with The Saul Zaentz Company and its Tolkien Enterprises subsidiary for many more years to come!
I would be remiss, however, were I not to acknowledge the two men responsible for bringing Middle-earth to the mass media in the first place. In November 1977, Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass, in what they then considered a rare experiment, decided to bring Bilbo's now-famous memoirs, There and Back Again, to NBC Television, under the more simpler title The Hobbit. As many of you now know --- and, much to their demerit, Warner Home Video continues to needlessly ignore --- their efforts, along with Romeo Muller's script, earned the team the George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting. When it became apparent, however, that Mr. Bakshi would never complete his proposed second Lord of the Rings movie, the good people of Rankin/Bass decided to step in and finish the job themselves. I remain proud of Arthur and Jules and their team for everything they did with The Hobbit and The Return of the King (1980).
Nevertheless, the 55 individuals who have been chosen to accept the challenge of bringing Lord of the Rings to life on stage are to be saluted, not insulted! You see, these men and women have made what I believe to be a very strong commitment to showcasing their talents, their dedication to the task at hand, and above all else, their showmanship and professionalism --- qualities that should be present at every stage show, be it in Toronto, London or New York. In fairness to the entire cast, I advise those of you reading my remarks not to dismiss their show, as some have publicly done, as an excuse to lure tourists to Toronto. It is to be hoped that, by seeing Lord of the Rings Live on Stage for yourselves, you may gain a newer, more expansive appreciation of J.R.R. Tolkien's legend --- and, of course, my role therein.
Regarding my presence at the Tony Awards three years from now, though: perhaps Master Blackwolf has the right idea about me dressing up in my finest robes for the occasion. That Hugh Jackman, though --- I wonder how he gets all that energy.....
Yours most sincerely,
Gandalf the White (Mithrandir)