When it comes to the world of magic, I grew up as a Harry Potter fan however there was always room for more stories of enchantment. The Lord of the Rings and the story of The Hobbit didn’t reach me until I was a lot older and because of that I feel like I was able to truly appreciate the storytelling that J.R.R. Tolkien created. The Children’s Theatre Company last year announced that they would be producing a world premiere production of an adapted version of The Hobbit I was pretty jazzed. The show even made it on my top 10 list of shows I was most excited for.
The Hobbit is the prequel to The Lord of the Rings series. It takes place in the mystical world of Middle Earth where goblins creep around the hill side, trolls run rampant across the mountains and elves cast powerful spells to anyone who crosses them. This is the story of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who is seemingly enjoying his calming life until the wizard Gandalf pays him a visit. Through a bit of persuasion, Gandalf is able to convince him to join a group of dwarves on a quest to reclaim the kingdom of Erebor, the dwarves home. While the journey is rough, we see Bilbo overcome obstacles, avoid almost being eaten and escape plenty of dangers, however is the biggest one yet to come?
What I really love about CTC is dedication to choosing stories that everyone knows but approaching in a unique way. The Hobbit is a story many know but this was the world premiere of this adaptation which helped push a level of unknown. We all know the story ends happily but because of the true art of storytelling they had, I still was always thinking “What’s going to happen next?” This is due to Greg Banks, who not only wrote this suspenseful script but also directed it, along with his stunning cast of six.
This ensemble really turns it out through out this adventure. With the exception of one, they all play multiple characters. I think sometimes this can be done really wrong or really right and in CTC’s case it was off the charts. Banks direction and Annie Cady’s costume choices. Becca Hart, H. Adam Harris, Joy Dolo and Reed Sigmund played so many roles between them. Each one was distinct and well fleshed out.
Two of the most impressive performers were Joy Dolo and Dean Holt, who played Bilbo Baggins. Holt helped keep the tone of the show light, especially for children. Through his jokes and laughing I think that truly helped this plot, that normally can be very violent and dark, stay light-hearted. Dolo not only brought the creepy Gollum to live, slithering around the stage on her hands and knees, but also got the chance to do something extremely exciting. She brought the character Gandalf to light. Dolo’s Gandalf was the same wise wizard we all know however with a sense of sarcasm and more wit which I found to be very fun.
Hart has that coveted ability to bring the audience along with her on the adventure through her acting. Harris has such a booming and versatile voice that I was so excited to see him in this role, especially where he’d be transforming it for various roles. His Smaug was demanding and present despite me being slightly disappointed with the build and mechanics of the design. With CTC’s past experiences in puppetry, I was hoping for a little more with Smaug.
Once again, the Children’s Theatre Company have created a beautifully enchanting story that is imaginative, creative and above all else, entertaining.
The Hobbit plays at the Children’s Theatre Company now through April 14.