One of the best numbers in LOTR: The Musical: The Musical! is “The Nerds Will Come,” and describes the producer’s faith that the much-maligned Middle Earth musical mishmash would succeed, regardless of the attention of traditional theatre-goers because of the geek dollar. Ironically, the success of this very amusing show will likely also rest on the same principle.
Not that you need to be an out-and-proud geek to be able to enjoy this show, but it definitely helps if you’ve read the books (or at least seen the movies) and that (if you were fortunate enough to miss out on the multi-million dollar flop when it seized the Princess of Wales) you are at least somewhat familiar with the fiasco.
In the tradition of SARSical, this one-act musical equally mocks and celebrates Toronto culture; Ben Mulroney and David Miller both appear as characters (the Miller wig is fantastic!). It tells the story of a mayor wanting to save his SARS-afflicted town’s floundering tourist industry, an evil British producer in need of a hit show and a virginal geekboy librettist who all come together to create one of the worst pieces of musical theatre of all time.
The show is funny and smart, including some great rhymes for words like “Frodo” and “Tolkien,” and the cast is quite talented, all being able to sing very competently. Perhaps most impressive is the dancing, particularly Graham Losee as the aforementioned virginal geekboy, which is of a professional calibre. Even at 60 minutes, the script could probably use a bit of tightening up, particularly around the beginning. Not that any of that matters too much to a show that started selling out from its first performance. LOTR: TM: TM! succeeds in that one area the makers of LOTR: TM so wished it to. Who cares what the critics say? The nerds will come.