6 Feb 2010

Bilbo Baggins, also known as Peter Howe !

I know a Hobbit when I meet one! Today I had the great honour to meet Bilbo Baggins from the Shire, also known as Peter Howe. I truly hope words will not fail me tonight, my emotions and adrenaline are still running high, after the most amazing afternoon in Middle-earth. I don't think I know enough adjectives in English to describe The Hobbit (UK Tour) , its a 'must see', unmissable production for people of all ages. The auditorium was filled with children , you could not hear a sound from them, everyone was on the edge of their seat, it was incredible. The theatre stage small, as by magic it became HUGE, Middle-earth opened its doors and the magic began . Can anyone really give a face and a voice to Bilbo Baggins? Can anyone have enough hobbit heart to bring to life the one Hobbit to rule them all? Enter PETER HOWE, no sorry, let me call him by his real name, enter Mr Bilbo Baggins ! He was there, in Bag End just a few meters away from me. But before I talk in details about Peter, let me tell you about the show.

The action takes place in different parts of Middle-earth, form Bilbo's house in the Shire, to The Road that will take you to Trollshaw and the Camp of the Trolls, down the Valley of Rivendell, up on the Road to the Misty Mountains, deep Inside the Mountains (Golum's cave) , then in the Wolf Forest, and Beorn's Hall, and the dark forest of Mirkwood. And this is only the first act :) Small Interval, then back in Mirkwood and in the Wood Elves Prison, then down to Laketown, and onwards on the Road to Erebor on the Lonely Mountains, The Hidden Gateway, and down in The Heart of Erebor , to the end of the story at The Front Gate of Erebor....yes, every single one of these locations is there, lighting, sounds, special effects and rotating stage elements, will physically transport you 'inside' the story where Gandalf shows-off his fireworks, and Smaug's cave is filled with smoke that does embrace the audience. ...and this is only the start. I was sitting there in awe, I had read some old reviews of the show, but this was simply amazing. Maybe sound a bit silly, but it was like if Tolkien was sitting next to me, pipe in his mouth, laughing and giggling at Bilbo's adventures.

Nothing has been taken out from the original story, its all there, every single little bit you remember from the book, including the eagles, the great escape with the empty barrels, the dragon...I could not believe what I was seeing, when a life-size Smaug made its appearance on the stage. A superb moving prop/puppet with red eyes, that looks exactly like the original drawings that Tolkien made. What? Fighting...real fighting and sword battles? Yes! Took me by surprise, was not expecting this much, goblins yelling, wrags howling, Azog, the Great Goblin loosing his head on the stage.It was like watching a movie, the fights are choreographed to perfection. The whole Battle of the Five Armies on the stage ...see, I knew I was going to run out of adjectives. Every detail was polished and showed, the costumes, the weapons, the props, from Thrain's Map with real moon-letters, to the One Ring. The Wood-Men dance in Beorn's Hall that makes you want to join in, Balin singing Tolkien's words, and tears when Thorin dies like a true King.

The only thing that does differ from the original story is the number of Dwarves in this version of The Hobbit. Balin, Bombur, Kili and Fili and Thorin Oakenshield are the chosen ones. A few words about the cast - they all deserve praise for an incredible performance, but a special mention must be given to Christopher Robbie that plays Gandalf. Andrew Coppin who is an incredibly valiant and powerful Thorin. Christopher Llewellyn for his Gollum that was superb and that would not be out of place in Peter Jackson's Middle-earth ...and then there is one small little person left, but one with a big heart, Mr. Bilbo Baggins of the Shire, also known as Peter Howe. To put it mildly, this is it! I believe I did find the hobbit that everyone is looking for. Peter is a natural hobbit, he was born to be in Middle-earth. Before Bilbo Baggins, he played the role of Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings Musical in London and Toronto. Call it fate, call it 'magic' he grew up just across the road from the woods that inspired Tolkien to write The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Peter Howe is a powerful, funny, brave, emotional and fearless Bilbo. He laugh, he cries, he yells, he tricks Gollum with his riddles. A true hobbit, not a man, not an elf, a hobbit's heart beats and I could not hold my tears because it does not happen very often to meet Bilbo Bagging in the flesh. During the interval I could not move, did not want to go out in fear it was all a dream and I was going to wake up, so I kept to my seat and thought : " If this guy did not sent his application for an audition for The Hobbit movie...I am gonna do it for him. He truly , madly, deeply deserves the role of Bilbo!" And I really mean that Hobbit Peter (Jackson) from New Zealand, you should really have a look at him because Peter Howe has same 'magic' that Elijah Wood has, trust me , I know my hobbits when I seen them :) ( Peter Howe's Agent - The BWH Agency )

The Hobbit (UK Tour) was superb, magical impressive, both visually and physically. A vivid and strong performance , unmissable and highly recommended for people of all ages. The perfect way to introduce young children to Tolkien's work. If you get the chance, go and see it!

Sitting here tonight, still stunned and in awe for I was lucky to be in Middle-earth for real for a few hours. Ooh I did cry a lot, I could not help it, I love this story so much. Tolkien was a genius! I did not want it to end, but it did. I stood there, palm of my hands burning after over five minutes of applauds and hoped that one day I will feel like this again while watching The Hobbit movie. Went out and drop at the supermarket down the road to buy some dinner, when suddenly a guy walks in to my aisle..dear Lord, its BILBO BAGGINS! Peter Howe holding a little basket, looked at me, I looked at him and say...:

ME: "You know Mr. Baggins, I really hope you did send your details for The Hobbit Movie auditions..."
BILBO 'PETER HOWE' :*big smile* " Actually , I did...still did not hear nothing yet..."
ME: " You are fantastic, you ARE Bilbo, I will write about you on my little blog tonight..."
BILBO 'PETER HOWE': "Oh that is kind, thank you, it really means a lot to me...I am Peter by the way..."
ME: *shaking his hand* "Nice to meet you Peter, I am Lei. Good Luck with the audition Peter!"
BILBO 'PETER HOWE' : " Thank you! Thank you" * kiss Bilbo on the cheek*

I did see also Gandalf in the supermarket, he did drop some batteries so I was about to go and help when I remember something Tolkien wrote ...:

"Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger." (J.R.R.Tolkien)

There and Back Again! So I paid for my food and walked out of the store with a huge smile :)

Peter Howe as Sam Gamgee, singing in The Lord of the Rings Musical-London