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Theatre Review (LA): Fellowship! The Musical Parody of The Fellowship of the Ring at The Falcon Theatre

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The Falcon Theatre is producing the winner of the 2005 Ovation Award for Best Musical, Fellowship! The Musical Parody of The Fellowship of the Ring. For me the evening was pretty much a waste. Though I am a fan of Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings, I don’t feel that this parody, or at least the way it is presented in this production, works all that well. Some of the participants are from the hit television show Mad TV but the piece is only intermittently funny.

What does work are some of the funny and inventive costumes, from the hobbits' feet to the costumes of the other characters. I particularly liked the costume for Gimli worn by Lisa Fredrickson. I also liked some of the tuneful music and rather amusing lyrics. The acting, however, was definitely a mixed bag.

Standouts were Edi Patterson as Arwen and Legolas, and Peter Allan Vogt as Sam and Balrog. Patterson leapt every time she spoke, a conceit that worked very nicely mainly because she meant what she said. But so many of the performers, mostly improvisational actors, displayed only half-realized characterizations; they seemed more interested in showing off their improvisational skills, often doing riffs that had little to do with the story. (I am more partial to the work of the Troubadour Theater Group, which appears occasionally at this same venue. They improvise, but within the story, and make it their job to tell the story through music, dance, and physical theatre.)

Peter Alan Vogt was the other exception; he was continually hilarious. His Sam yearned for Frodo, and he never dropped his action or intention, though he was not above getting cheap but very funny laughs. But his Balrog, a campy monster if there ever was one, was really the highlight of the evening.

Joel McCrary directed Fellowship! from a book by himself and Kelly Holden Basher. The music is by Allen Simpson. Lyrics were listed as by everybody. The simple but flexible and serviceable set was by Matt Gouley. I only wish the piece had been set at as high a standard as Mad TV.

Fellowship! The Musical Parody of The Fellowship of the Ring plays at the Falcon Theatre until July 12.

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