In the middle of the earth, in the land of the Shire

On Friday night, Mike and I went to see The Hobbit, which was being performed by a youth theater company from this area. Now, before I poke a little fun, I want to say that we had a good time and the kids obviously worked very hard. The sets were great and the main characters did a good job. Bilbo was good, Gandalf was good, Gollum brought down the house (obviously channelling Andy Serkis, but who can blame her?), and Smaug was quite terrifying. We definitely plan on going to see other productions by these kids. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is their Winter production, and we might go see that one if we can.

But . . . whose idea was it to cast all 13 dwarves? I am all about being faithful to the text, but thirteen dwarves plus Gandalf, Bilbo, some goblins or trolls is just a mess. Party on the stage! Chaos! You can’t even really see the sets anymore! Mr. Tolkien was obviously not writing with a stage production in mind, because 13 dwarves works fine on paper, but is not so great on stage. My suggestion would have been to have six dwarves and Bilbo set out on the journey. In addition, not all the dwarves had microphones, so there were a few we couldn’t hear, which was a shame.

Here’s where they did the “chip the glasses, crack the plates,” bit, which was fun:

Chip the glasses

Another problem was either with the script or with kids who forgot their lines. “What are those flashes of light?” “Those are those flashes of light!” Hee. Mike and I have been saying that pretty constantly since Friday night. And the spacing of the scenes didn’t seem to make any sense – Act I was an hour and a half, while Act II was 35-40 minutes. And Act I, Scene 1 was really more like three scenes. There was a point where I wondered if we would get out of there before 11:00 at night, since we had been in the first scene for half an hour . . . and we still had seven scenes to go. The worst thing about the script was that, at the end, instead of having some kind of acknowledgement that Bard of Dale killed Smaug with an arrow, they had the Elf Queen (we think they must have had more girls than boys try out) of Mirkwood present Thorin with a sword that was created to kill Smaug in exchange for some of the dragon treasure. Um, what? And, hee. Additionally, pretty much everybody knew about Bilbo’s ring. At some point, Mike turned to me and said, “I thought only Gollum and Gandalf know that Bilbo has the ring?” “That’s right,” I said, “don’t think too much about it.” “They’d better not try to do The Lord of the Rings next year or Sauron is going to go after a lot more people than just ‘Shire. Baggins.‘” Hee. Some of the other big changes were that, instead of three male trolls, there were five trolls: two men and three women. And there was no Rivendell at all. Mike pointed out that they probably could have gotten Hugo Weaving if they’d wanted to – he doesn’t seem to be doing much these days.

Here’s the Elf Queen and her attendants. Sorry it’s blurry.

The Elf Queen

There were the usual mistakes you get with theater, like props getting knocked over by the curtain and lines getting messed up, but my favorite was when they were hiding “in” the “barrels” to get out of Mirkwood, and one of the “barrels” fell over. “It’s just cardboard? I’m so disappointed!” hehe.

The scariest moment was when Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves set off on their journey, and they came into the audience. I told Mike that if thew threw glitter at me, I was leaving. Luckily, no glitter was thrown.

We were definitely the only ones there who weren’t related to any of the kids, which was a shame, because they worked really hard. We may have giggled a bit too much, but we both agreed it was well worth the cost of admission. Mike tried to convince me to get my picture taken with Gandalf, but I refused. Now I kind of wish I had. Oh, well.

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