Fellowship! is a musicalparody stage play based on The Fellowship of the Ring (the first volume of J. R. R. Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings) and Peter Jackson’s 2001 film adaptation of it. The book was written by Kelly Holden-Bashar and Joel McCrary with music by Allen Simpson. Lyrics and additional material by Brian D. Bradley, Lisa Fredrickson, Kelly Holden-Bashar, Joel McCrary, Edi Patterson, Steve Purnick, Cory Rouse, Allen Simpson, Ryan Smith, Peter Allen Vogt and Matthew Stephen Young (the on-stage cast). The musical was first performed at the El Portal Forum Theater in North Hollywood, California.
The play follows the major events of the first part of Tolkien’s story and the first of Peter Jackson’s movies. It re-imagines Bilbo Baggins as an aged Catskill Jewish man, the Balrog as a sleep-deprived, lounge-singing diva, the battle on Weathertop as a West Side Story-style gang fight, and Rivendell as a Scientologist stronghold (primarily due to the similarity of names between ‘Elrond’ and ‘L. Ron’ Hubbard). Part live action, part puppet show and part animation, the show removes or summarizes parts of the story that would slow it down. While played for laughs, the music features original compositions instead of parodies, and the song styles range from cheesy 1980s rock to sleazy cabaret numbers.
The play had a successful six-week run in early 2005, and played several sold-out shows at the 2005 San Diego Comic Con. L.A. Weekly named it a “Pick of the Week”, and both Backstage West and the Los Angeles Times listed it as a “Critic’s Choice.”
In 2014, a completely different cast performed the play at the Circle Theatre in Fort Worth. They had a successful six week run with favorable reviews from critics in the Dallas/Fort Worth area (see External Links).
In 2006, the play won Musical of the Year and Best Comedy Ensemble at the 2006 LA Weekly Theater Awards. The show was also nominated for Best Musical Direction.
At the 36th Annual Saturn Awards, held on June 24, 2010, in Burbank, California, the play won the award for Best Local Stage Production: Small Theatre. It was the first time an award in this category had ever been given at the Saturn Awards. Composer Allen Simpson and cast members Matt Young and Ryan Smith accepted the award on behalf of the play. The award was presented by actor John de Lancie.
The 2014 Circle Theatre production brought home 4 awards at the 16th annual COLUMN AWARDS for excellence in Dallas/Ft. Worth Theatre: BEST MUSICAL (equity,) BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR went to Ben Philips for his portrayal of Gandalf/Galadriel, Kristin Spires won BEST MUSICAL DIRECTION, and composer Allen Simpson won BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A MUSICAL.
- Official site
- L.A. Weekly Theater Awards list
- The Saturn Awards
- Theater Jones Review: Kris Noteboom
- Fort Worth Star Telegram Review: Punch Shaw
- The Column Online Review: Elaine Plybon