The Hobbit presented by the Alliance Children's Theater - A Review
Alliance Children's Theatre Flyer for The Hobbit
Directed by Rosemary Newcott
Adapted by Edward Mast
Costume Design by Susan E Mickey
Scenic Design by Kevin Raper
Lighting Design by Diane Ferry Williams
Reviewed by White Council member, Elbren Galadrim
A magical portal has opened which leads to Middle-earth, Third Age, and it's located within the Alliance Theater in Atlanta, Georgia.
Let's do away with what Rosemary Newcott's production of The Hobbit doesn't have, shall we? No Elves. No Rivendell. No Troll scene. No Mirkwood spiders. Will you miss them? Yes, probably. Does it make the entire production a candidate for a lemon award? I am pleased to answer a resounding, "NO", to that and instead report that The Hobbit is charming, endearing, and yes, it has that touch of Tolkien "magic" that makes it a portal to our beloved Middle-earth.
The Alliance's Hobbit is designed to be an educational introduction to Tolkien and great literature complete with a short biography of Tolkien in the program and a bit of how The Hobbit came to be written. Monday through Friday, The Hobbit plays to school groups, clubs, and other children's groups. On Saturdays and Sundays, the general public may purchase tickets. And if you're near Atlanta while it's playing and if you consider yourself a Tolkien fan, shame on you if you don't see it! Yes, indeed, it's not to be missed!
As soon as you walk into the theater, you will be greeted with a massive map of Middle-earth, Third Age, as the stage curtain complete with Celtic style art around the edges. At this point, I told my 12 year old nephew how nice that would look in my den, and he vehemently agreed.
The play begins in our lovely Bag End where Bilbo, (played by Chris Moses), is reading the Tale of the Fall of Gondolin, in fact, the part where Glorfindel and Gothmog battle and then fall off the side of the mountain. I confess, I had chills! Moses looked splendid as Bilbo, very Hobbitish, (even the feet!), and he had the voice and mannerisms of young Bilbo very well rehearsed. I was convinced, this WAS a reincarnation of Bilbo.
Enter Gandalf, played by Alan Kilpatrick. His stage presence wasn't as Gandalf-like as perhaps I would have liked, but his entry was splendid nonetheless. The dialogue between Bilbo and Gandalf was delightful; the interaction made up for the missing "presence" of Gandalf.
Ah, but then in came the Dwarves! Marching, laughing, each with their own personality that was delivered with perhaps a single word or motion, and they had me smiling and laughing. Heather Ward was marvelous as Gloin, Dori, and Fili, (yes, all three, you'll have to see it to understand how they pull that off!), and Jim Hubbert as Bombur was PERFECT! Yes, I said it, "perfect". The opening scene where the Dwarves nearly eat Bilbo out of house and home, (and eating is indeed a prominent part of the opening scene and especially the importance of it to Bilbo), is hysterical!
Then, enter Thorin Oakenshield, played by Jahi Kearse. Majestic, ambitious, and determined. Kearse played Thorin to a "T". It takes a bit of convincing for Gandalf to get Thorin to accept Bilbo, (yes, we already know that, I know!), but seeing Kilpatrick's Gandalf convince Kearse's Oakenshield is like reading the book all over again. Enchanting!
Alliance Children's Theatre Program Cover for The Hobbit
The tale goes on, of course, and instead of Bilbo rescuing the Dwarves from the Mirkwood Elves or the Trolls, these book scenes are combined and he uses the Ring to outsmart the Goblins and deliver Thorin and Company from the Goblin dungeons. They make their way to the Lonely Mountain, and Bilbo is called upon to do a bit of spying inside the castle and see what Smaug is up to.
Smaug. I've seen productions of The Hobbit where Smaug is a man in a Dragon mask and a voice with no bodily presense, both of them disappointed me tremendously. Not so with THIS production! Smaug is HUGE! Complete with smoking nostrils, booming voice, scaly tail that nearly knocks Bilbo down a few times, and seering, glowing eyes, this fella will probably scare a few of the 2 and under observers and give them fodder for a few nightmares. For me, I loved it!
The Battle scene is well done by using the stage curtain at the forefront of the stage, characters behind it and silhouetted, and battle sounds blaring on the theater speakers. We haven't seen Gandalf again since Bag End, but just prior to the battle, he comes again, revealing a bit about Dol Guldur and what he found there, (nice little morsels for we Tolkien nutz).
Thorin dies, of course, and this is sad and probably a bit hard on the youngsters in the audience who, I suspect, expect forgiveness for his obstinance rather than death. Gandalf then asks Bilbo about his magic
ring, and the play draws to a close.
Entertaining. Charming. Marvelous.
If you can see it, then by all means, DO! My 12 year nephew gave it a resounding TEN on the scale, his pal did the same, and my sister and I, ("old" Tolkien fiends), were smiling and raving about the play to friends and family as soon as we got home.
I missed the Elves, but Smaug made up for it!