April 26, 2000
Wanted: One More Gandalf
One would have thought that the capital was just about
reaching Lord of the Rings saturation point, but last week a handful of Wellington actors
were auditioning for another Tolkien production.
Professor Malcolm Cooke and director Christine Anketell are
searching for a New Zealand actor for the pivotal role of Gandalf in a stage production of
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. The show has been playing to packed houses in Australia for
the past two years and the company is bringing it to New Zealand in August.
Anketell emphasised the importance of Gandalf in the
production, describing him as the character who holds it all together. She said they were
looking for an actor with great stage presence and a well-trained voice, as
"Tolkien's language demands an ability to deliver text to the audience".
Gandalf is relied upon to maintain a rapport with the
audience both by narrating the story, and participating in the action. The successful
actor will also have to master feats of magic and sword fighting, as the show relies on
Gandalf's ability to communicate a sense of mystery. "He is very powerful, but he has
a lot of warmth -- he loves Bilbo and the other hobbits," Anketell said.
This production of The Hobbit brings more than 80 characters
to life, using the skills of puppeteers and a variety of mediums. Billed by reviewers in
Australia as a visual feast, the show is likely to be a popular drawcard for Tolkien fans
who are finding it difficult to wait for the LOTR film trilogy.
"The Hobbit" has captivated the hearts, minds and
imagination of people wherever we have been, and it's now New Zealand's turn to share the
magic," said Cooke. The tour opens in Auckland in August before coming to the Opera
House in Wellington in September.