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'Lord of the Rings' Closing in Toronto

By Rob Gillies

The mammoth stage production of "The Lord of the Rings," which was mostly panned by critics, is closing in Toronto.

Producer Kevin Wallace said Wednesday that the $24 million, 3 1/2 hour show will close Sept. 3.

"We're doing respectable but were not sold out. The scale of this show needs that," producer David Mirvish said at a news conference. "The costs are 50 percent more than 'The Lion King' to run so it (the theater) must be full."

It was announced last week that "The Lord of the Rings," believed to be the most expensive show ever mounted, will open in London next year — trimmed, tightened and reworked since its Toronto premiere at the Princess of Wales Theatre in March.

The show's debut met with a harsh critical reception.

The Associated Press said it was "lavish yet disappointing ... a case of imagination overwhelmed by complexity."

The New York Times said, "Everyone and everything winds up lost in this ... adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's cult-inspiring trilogy of fantasy novels. That includes plot, character and the patience of most ordinary theatregoers."

The show, based on Tolkien's literary trilogy about a Hobbit named Frodo and his quest to rid Middle-earth of evil, received the financial blessing of the Ontario provincial government, which had contributed $2.5 million. Tolkien's story was adapted by Shaun McKenna and director Matthew Warchus.

Though not considered a musical by its creators, "The Lord of the Rings" has moments of song — an odd amalgam of sounds by Bollywood master A.R. Rahman and Varttina, a Finnish folk group.

Wallace said that the stronger Canadian dollar and negative reviews made American tourists reluctant to come to Toronto to see the show. He also said that negative reviews from critics damaged the production.

The London show will have changes, he said — they'll give it a "heightened emotional pulse."

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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