March 6, 2013
A musical Middle Earth
Chip Ellis
(From left) Joshua Brennan, Dawson Eagle and Henry Leef are among the cast of more than 40 local children in the Children's Theatre of Charleston's production of the Tolkein-approved musical "The Hobbit." The show, which also features a live orchestra, opens Friday at the Civic Center Little Theater.


"The Hobbit"

Presented by Children's Theatre of Charleston

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Civic Center Little Theater

COST: Adults $12, students $10

INFO: 304-346-0164 or

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There is something perfect about the Children's Theatre of Charleston staging J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit." Who better to convey the magic and courage of Middle Earth's smallest citizens than children?

Tim Mace directs a team of young actors as Bilbo Baggins and a band of dwarves on their classic quest to claim a treasure guarded by the evil dragon, Smaug. Gandalf, Gollum, elves, goblins, trolls and spiders round out a cast of more than 40 children ages 6 to 14. A true musical production, the production has 15 musical pieces and is the only stage script and musical score approved by Tolkien.

Mace said this is one of the most faithful adaptations of any work he has ever seen and thinks that must be what earned it Tolkien's blessing.

"It doesn't dumb it down, and that is so common in children's plays," he said. "I am drawn to this play specifically because it doesn't belittle the audience.

"I'll never forget seeing a production of 'Snow White' where the dwarves were not called dwarves, and no one died. It was the most bizarre retelling of anything I'd ever seen. When you have good defeating evil for the right purposes, I don't know what's wrong with that."

"I think we cast this really well," said musical director Mark Scarpelli. "We decided we were going to cast no adults. Orchestra members are adults, and there are two adult voices for Smaug, but every character on stage is a kid."

Going with an all-child cast was a mental hurdle for Scarpelli at first.

"When I first read this script, I told Tim we had to have an adult as Gollum. I couldn't see a kid doing that. Gandalf, too, is this warrior persona, but Timmy and Joshua are doing phenomenal jobs with these characters."

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