Director Jon Ecklund and Producer Walt Klappert face a daunting task in mounting a professional theatrical production of “The Hobbit” in Southern California. To see the difficulty, try reading any of JRR Tolkien’s stories, but skip everything but the dialogue. You may discover that Tolkien’s spoken word probably comes in third place in a competition with his descriptions of scenery and characters.
Last year’s award winning film “Lord of the Rings” provides some hints to a solution for this challenge. The film had remarkable special effects, but that alone could not carry the day. The very strong acting talent really made the difference. Take Gandalf, for instance. It took none less than Shakespearean-trained Ian McKellen to make the role work.
Ecklund and Klappert are both graduates of the Yale Drama School—about 20 years apart. Ecklund is bringing together fellow alumni to fill the boots and hairy feet of their hobbits, dwarves, wizard, and other characters. That just might do it. Also, Klappert produced the play before in Boston.
An additional strategy is to present this entertainment in Topanga, California - a beautiful rustic area just outside of Los Angeles. This community is Southern California’s closest representation of the Hobbits’ Shire in Middle Earth. So, audience members will have appropriate vistas on their own adventure to the theatre.
The play opens on September 28, 2002. Tickets available from September 1, 2002 through www.ticketweb.com or 800-965-4827.