December 1, 2001
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Play Review: The Hobbit

Hobbit hugely entertaining
By LISA WILTON


CALGARY -- Bringing The Hobbit to the stage is no easy feat.

J.R.R. Tolkien's vivid fantasy tale is filled with dozens of magical characters, frightening creatures and mystical settings.

But Alberta Theatre Projects has done an admirable job bringing The Hobbit to life. The play -- adapted by Kim Selody -- is more slapstick and comical than Tolkien's original, which has a darker tone.

While older Tolkien fans might find ATP's show a tad on the goofy side, children who attended Thursday's opening night performance were riveted.

Restricted by space and budget, the company can only do so much to create the world of The Hobbit. Which is fine, since it allows the audience to fill in the gaps with their imaginations.

With a relatively small cast of eight -- most of whom play a mulitude of characters -- director Vanessa Porteous is able to keep the stage uncluttered and the action sweeping.

Frank Zotter plays the pot-bellied, hairy-toed hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who is taken on an exciting and dangerous adventure by a group of dwarves looking for revenge.

The dwarves, you see, lost all their treasure many years ago to a fearsome dragon named Smaug (imaginitively designed by Kim Crossley).

Judith Bowden's earthy, but vibrant costume and set design works well with the moody wash of colour supplied by lighting designer Melinda Sutton, especially in the wonderfully playful scene between Baggins and the sinisterly slimy Gollum (Elizabeth Stepkowski).

Whimsical, wild and not too scary, ATP's The Hobbit is great holiday fun for the family. (More: Theatre Reviews).

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