'Rings' Musical Bound for London Stage

updated 05/29/2003 at 12:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/29/2003 2:29PM

Frodo, get out your dancing shoes.

British theatrical producer Kevin Wallace has announced that a $13 million stage version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" is due to open on London's West End in spring 2005, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the publication of the entire trilogy.

"It will stimulate audiences' imaginations in a way they've never felt before," he told Reuters. (Meanwhile, the third and film installment of Peter Jackson's film trilogy, "The Return of the King," is due out later this year.)

Onstage, Middle Earth is to be populated by a cast of 50, which is large by any standards. (The Broadway cast of "The Producers" has about 20). And if the show is well-received, the production may tour, says Wallace.

His co-producer is Hollywood veteran Saul Zaentz, who is responsible for the films "The English Patient" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

In other stage news, Broadway has something to celebrate in anticipation of June 8's Tony Awards.

On Wednesday, the League of American Theaters and Producers announced that the latest Broadway season set a box-office record -- despite a drop in New York tourism and a musicians' strike that shut down shows for a few days earlier this year.

But thanks to such new hit shows as "Hairspray," based on the John Waters movie, and Billy Joel's "Movin' Out" -- as well as Oscar attention paid to "Chicago," whose stage revival is still going strong (and is about to welcome Melanie Griffith) -- this year's receipts totaled $705.4 million, up $62.9 million, or 9.8 percent, from the previous year.

Paid attendance was up 1.75 percent, while the average ticket price climbed from $58.63 to $63.80, the biggest increase in more than 20 years.

Of course, most top ticket prices for the hit musicals -- including "Nine" with Antonio Banderas -- are $100, often with an additional a service and/or theater restoration fee.

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