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‘Rings’ sings Canuck song

Tolkien's trilogy comes to the stage

TORONTO — “The Lord of the Rings” is coming to the musical stage, and Frodo is starting his journey in Toronto.

Capitalized at $23 million, the tuner version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy will have its world premiere at the 2,000-seat Princess of Wales Theater on March 23, 2006.

A formal announcement will be made at a press conference Wednesday morning. Producers Kevin Wallace and Saul Zaentz have partnered with Canucks David and Ed Mirvish and Michael Cohl to present the tuner epic.

Wallace was inhouse producer for the Really Useful Theater Company from 1997-2001. Zaentz produced the films “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus.” The Mirvishes are the major legit producers in Canada, and their theaters are currently housing “Mamma Mia!,” “Wicked” and “Da Kink in My Hair.” Cohl is the Canadian rock impresario whose TGA Entertainment has helped back “Bombay Dreams” and “Spamalot.”

“The Lord of the Rings” musical has been in development for four years, and at one time was announced for a West End opening in fall 2005.

The world premiere production will feature a Canadian cast, directed by Matthew Warchus, whose Broadway credits include “Life x 3” and “Follies.”

Book and lyrics are by Shaun McKenna, and the music is a joint collaboration between the Indian composer A.R. Rahman (“Bombay Dreams”) and the Finnish group Varttina.

Rob Howell will design costumes and the set, which features three interconnected turntables containing 16 elevators.

“The Lord of the Rings” is expected to run three hours and feature a cast of 65. Rehearsals begin in Toronto on Oct. 24, 2005, with the first preview set for Feb. 2, 2006.

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