AR Rahman was one of the stars at last night's premiere of 'The Lord of the Rings,'the most expensive musical spectacle produced here that earned mixed reviews from critics on Wednesday, but most of them lavished praise on its music.
Rahman, who produced the musical score for the 12.5 pounds mega-musical stage adaptation of the JRR Tolkien trilogy with Finnish folk group Varttina and Christopher Nightingale, was accorded a red carpet welcome as he arrived for the three-hour show at the packed Theatre Royal here.
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The Times on Monday wrote that it took three years, and many more millions, to bring this production to the stage.
After getting a lukewarm reception in its initial six-month run in Toronto, the producers shaved 45 minutes off the running time, recast key roles, beefed up the relationship between the hobbits Sam and Frodo, re-orchestrated the music, re-choreographed the battle scenes and injected more spectacle into the climactic tussle for the ring.
"The result is the most expensive production in West End history," the paper said.
It remains to be seen whether the one million pounds revolving stage, weighing 40 tonnes, and its cast of Hobbits, Orcs, Men, Ents and Elves, with 504 costumes, supported by 50 actors, 19 musicians, and a 60-strong backstage crew, will be enough to beat well-known composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat', which has already been heavily promoted on television.
Rahman, hailed by The Time Magazine as the 'Mozart of Madras' received laurels from critics here, though the production itself evoked mixed reaction from them, with some describing it as brilliant and some calling it a 'flop'.
"The music also never, or hardly ever, impedes the narrative flow," wrote the Guardian, adding that two dominant elements of the score -- "the hearty, rustic numbers" and the "romantic ballads" -- "fulfils the basic function of reinforcing atmosphere".
The Times said, "the music, airy and earthy by turns, carries and intensifies the story's swell of feelings."
The world of musicals is not new for Rahman, who, according to a BBC estimate, has sold more than 100 million albums of his works, comprising music from over 50 movies.
In 2001, Andrew Lloyd Webber invited Rahman to compose for the musical 'Bombay Dreams', the first musical he would produce that he had not composed.
'Bombay Dreams' opened to packed houses in London's West End. The show had an unprecedented run for two years and later premiered on Broadway in New York.
The 'Bombay' Theme, composed by Rahman for the Mani Ratnam-directed movie 'Bombay', featured recently in the film 'Lord of War' starring Nicholas Cage.
The track, 'Chaiyya Chaiyya' from the movie 'Dil Se' has found its way into the new Spike Lee movie, 'Inside Man', starring Oscar winner Denzel Washington.