Review – Fellowship! The Musical

03Jul09

History became legend, legend became myth…
The myth became a book, the book became a movie, and tonight the movie becomes a musical!

If you read this blog or know either of us in person, you know that we love Lord of the Rings. Love. We are total geeks for the books, for the movies, and anything remotely related to either. Five-ish years ago, a small theater was putting on a musical parody of Fellowship. We thought, “Wow this seems like a terrible idea…let’s go see it!” And we did and we loved it.

And finally, finally, my dreams came true yesterday with the reuniting of the entire original cast for a second run of Fellowship! The Musical Parody of Fellowship of the Ring.

This time, I brought along my mom and little brother (who, although they enjoy the books and movies, are not at the off-the-charts level I am) as a neutral party. We all brought high expectations with us based on my last viewing, and were all a bit nervous that Fellowship! might not be able to deliver to such standards.

The Venue

Fellowship! is playing at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, CA. I must be honest with you, I love small, regional theaters. The Falcon is adorable and quaint from the outside, and small without feeling hole-in-the-wall on the inside. My usher dubbed our second row seats as “leg hair” viewing, and she was right. Sitting only feet from the actors is fantastic, as they give performances of comedy gold. (Be forewarned that if you sit in the front row, you can expect to get hit on by a Balrog diva.) I am quite certain though that any seat in the Falcon is a good seat, another one of the perks of small theaters.

The Performances

Scanning through the playbill reveals that most of the actors are seasoned improv artists, and their performances showcase this incredibly well. Amidst the rollicking songs, there is plenty of leeway for the actors to further enliven moments with improv, and they kept the audience in stiches for the entirety of the show.

The charm of Fellowship! is entirely contained in these actors and their characters – parody is difficult to pull off so successfully, and must be done lovingly and with great respect for the original. The characters that sing and dance around the Falcon’s stage are brilliant reincarnations of the ones traveling across Peter Jackson’s film. It’s all for a laugh (and there are lots of them) but it’s also for portraying the heart of the original – a group of very different people uniting on one very epic quest. Director Joel McCrary does a phenomenal job of pacing the show and guiding the performances, and his decisions of which elements of the movies to include were wonderful.

Every performance is a standout, giving and magnifying the ensemble as a whole. There are only nine actors in the entire show (if you’re counting, that means one for each member of the Fellowship)…thuseach actor also performs a variety of supporting roles. It’s hard to choose a favorite from such a strong bevy of talent, but Matthew Stephen Young’s portrayal of Strider would have to be one of the best. His black nailed, emo-rocker vibe full of “dude”s and “rock on”s is pitch perfect for the broken sword-ed character. Peter Allen Vogt also gives memorable performances as a lovelorn Sam and the divalicious Balrog. The last time around, I was the least impressed with Edi Patterson’s performance as Arwen and Legolas – but I was happily surprised this night when her rendition was absolutely flawless, mocking every aspect of elven extreme grace superbly. Even the cast’s performances as supporting characters were rife with laughter, from orcs running around stage grunting, “Orc! Orc!” to the tech crews’ appearances as Arwen’s wave horses. And, happily, the orchestra of two even become part of the show at different moments.

Usually reviews possess at least some element of criticism, but most of the show elements I disliked in the last run have been fixed for this one: the addition of an intermission was good and necessary, and any weaknesses in character performances were updated and changed. The sole addition I wasn’t a fan of was Pippin’s new Annie-esque wig. Big whoop though in the context of an entire show!

Whether you consider yourself a Middle-Earth geek like myself, or you saw the movies once long ago, this riotous show is sure to delight. I kid you not that the entire audience (even the cast members themselves at times) laughed their way from beginning to end. Fellowship! is perfect for a light-hearted evening, a reminder that life is better when enjoyed heartily. The run has been extended through July 19th, and I highly urge you to go!

Tickets can be purchased at falcontheatre.com for $25-$45.

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One Response to “Review – Fellowship! The Musical”

  1. 1 unfony

    Nice!


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