By Scott Brown
Updated August 03, 2020 at 07:35 PM EDT

The road, it seems, does not go ever on: The large and unwieldy theatrical production of Lord of the Rings, budgeted somewhere in the neighborhood of a record $25 million, will go back into its hobbit hole on Sept. 3. Toronto will revert from geek pilgrimage to “New York City” backlot set for mid-range Hollywood films.

The producers blamed <a href=”,6115,1176423_9_0_,00.html
“>critics, as usual. They had a point this time. The New York Times‘ Ben Brantley did more damage to the young hobbits than Sauron ever could. Brit critics were kinder, and that’s one reason why the show will reappear (in shortened form) on May 9, 2007 at Drury Lane in London, and thence (producers hope) to Germany, where it will undoubtedly compete head-to-head with another Wagnerian saga, The David Hasselhoff Musical.

It’s not a bad backup plan actually: They’ve gotten an excoriating but not fatal dry run, a luxury most shows don’t enjoy. And the losses sting, but London (with its seeming tolerance for bloat) will probably love the show — which is, I’ll admit, overlong and underclear, and more ceremonial than dramatic. It’s also fantastically art-directed, but even the most inventive theatrical design concepts are a tough sell in Hour 3, when your eyes are rolling back, the tunes all sound like the waiting-room music at your yoga studio, and you can’t tell an orc from a handsaw anymore.

But with another few months and another few million, there’s always room for improvement.

addCredit(“The Lord of the Rings Musical: Manuel Harlan”)