The Hobbit – A Musical (Studio East)

Posted on October 30, 2013

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“The Hobbit – A Musical” at Studio East.

The Hobbit – A Musical” at Studio East.

Studio East brilliantly brings the enchanted lands of Middle Earth to the stage with their 2013-2014 season kickoff production of “The Hobbit – A Musical”. Based on the 1972 adaption by Ruth Perry (music by Allan Jay Friedman and lyrics by David Roger) of the beloved classic by J.R.R. Tolkien, it recounts the story of the most unlikely of heroes, an unassuming Hobbit by the name of Bilbo Baggins. Directed by Lani Brockman and choreographed by Jenny Mitchell with musical direction by David Duvall, “The Hobbit – A Musical” runs from October 18 – November 3 over at Studio East Mainstage Theater in Kirkland. The show is double casted (I watched Cast B), so you may want to see the show more than once to experience both casts.

The Hobbit – A Musical” begins innocently enough with Bilbo pleasantly listening to his high-spirited nephew Frodo outside of his hobbit hole. Bilbo Baggins, played with surprising empathy and warmth by the gifted Robert Kinsfather, lovingly indulges his young nephew played by the absolutely adorable Grace Hiley, as he reads from a book containing tales of magic rings, monsters and adventures which lay beyond their quiet home in the Shire. I was impressed by Kinsfather’s ability to so convincingly portray the gentle but honorable and fiercely loyal spirit which is Bilbo Baggins. His performance continues to get stronger, as the production goes on.

The Trolls (Maddie Barr, Olivia Cranston, Sam Crewe-Sullam). “The Hobbit – A Musical”  at Studio East.

The Trolls (Maddie Barr, Olivia Cranston, Sam Crewe-Sullam). “The Hobbit – A Musical” at Studio East.

As they retire into Bilbo’s home, the ominous figure of Gandalf the Grey appears, foreshadowing the quickly approaching end to Bilbo’s cherished anonymous and quiet life at Bag’s End. Gandalf, played by the continually impressive Christian Obert who magnificently conveys the essence of the mysterious wizard. I would consider his voice to be one of the strongest in the show.

Thorin (Brendan Bibby) and the dwarves looked tremendous and impressed the audience with their entrance, singing their haunting dwarf song. Although there were moments during the production where some of the dwarf’s lines were hard to pick up perhaps due to their lengthy beards, overall they were an audience favorite. Especially entertaining were Kili (Lizzie Arustamian), Fili (Andrew Kinsfather), Balin (Henry Hale) and Bombur (Noah Barr). I was impressed with the three trolls (Maddie Barr, Olivia Cranston, Sam Crewe-Sullam) and their ability to move around on stilts.

The Hobbit – A Musical” is a challenging production to tackle boasting over 40 unique characters, numerous scene changes, large scale fighting scenes and the makeup, costumes and special effects required to represent the variety of different characters, races and critters which includes tackling the task of representing the dragon Smaug on the stage. I would be remise if I did not mention the amazing costume created for Smaug, which truly delighted the audience, even causing them to jump at the first blast of smoke from Smaug’s mouth.

Smaug and Bilbo (Robert Kinsfather) square off. “The Hobbit – A Musical”  at Studio East.

Smaug and Bilbo (Robert Kinsfather) square off. “The Hobbit – A Musical” at Studio East.

Kudos to the folks who not only put Smaug together but also to the man inside and the voice over work. All of which contributed to making the well-choreographed scene with Bilbo (Kinsfather) and Smaug memorable.

Studio East does not shy away from challenging production, as we have seen over the years. They do an amazing job, faithful recreating the beloved classic in a fun and entertaining manner with their clever production of “The Hobbit – A Musical”. My recommendation is to bring the family and come out and check out the production before it is too late. “The Hobbit – A Musical” runs from October 18 through November 3 at Studio East. Tickets are available at: http://boxoffice.printtixusa.com/studioeast/eventcalendar?i=12766

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