Finnish Band Värttinä to Provide Musical Backdrop to First Stage Musical Adaptation of Lord of the Rings

New York, USA – The World Premiere of the £8 Million stage version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” Production will open in London in Spring 2005. “Lord of the Rings” and Finland’s influential contemporary folk group Värttinä have always had something in common. Both draw original inspiration from the Kalevala, Finland’s national epic of mythological songs, poems, and stories.

Now Tolkien’s Finnish-influenced stories and languages (such as Elvish) will have an explicit connection to Värttinä’s music and lyrics. India’s most popular composer A.R. Rahman and Värttinä are to collaborate in composing the score for the stage version of “Lord of the Rings,” which will have its World Premiere in London’s West End in Spring 2005. The production coincides with the 50th anniversary of the publication of the complete J R R Tolkien trilogy, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Two Towers,” and “The Return of the King.”

This announcement coincides with Värttinä’s USA tour this November:

11.11.2003, Tues. New York Satalla
11.13.2003, Thu. Durham, NC Reynolds Theater, Duke University
11.15.2003, Sat. Madison, WI Wisconsin Union Theater, UW Madison
11.16.2003, Sun. Minneapolis, MN Cedar Cultural Center

A.R. Rahman has composed soundtracks for over 50 Bollywood films, which have sold over 100 million soundtrack albums. A.R. Rahman is best known in the West for writing the music for “Bombay Dreams,” currently playing to sell-out business in London, and opening on Broadway in Spring 2004.

Värttinä, fronted by three female singers and supported by six acoustic musicians, are now celebrating their 20th year and the release of their 10th album, iki (NorthSide). Since 1990, they have toured internationally and built a reputation as one of the most inventive and uncompromising ensembles in the contemporary world music arena.

Producer Kevin Wallace says, “A fusion of A.R. Rahman’s and Värttinä’s exceptional talents and contemporary sounds, rooted in the antiquity of their respective traditions, will provide Tolkien’s mythological world of Middle Earth with a pure, unique and dynamic score. At the heart of this spectacular epic is an intense story of personal and collective endeavor that grips the audience’s
imagination, immersing them completely in the experience; the music of A.R. Rahman and Värttinä has the dramatic range to do just that. I am pleased the music of the project’s initial composers Stephen Keeling and Bernd Stromberger is also available to the production.”

“Lord of the Rings,” with book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna, will be directed by Matthew Warchus and designed by Rob Howell. Christopher Nightingale is the musical supervisor.

The production of “Lord of the Rings” which will cost £8 million, is produced by Kevin Wallace and Saul Zaentz.