The Hobbit at Pantages Theater

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The following is by Cee Cee Robins
Tacoma Weekly

Opening 2010 at Broadway Center, Pantages Theater is presenting a special production by Théâtre Sans Fil (TSF) of “The Hobbit” on Jan. 8. Fans of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the sci-fi/fantasy genre, and/or puppets and spectacular special effects should certainly enjoy this novel show that is suitable for all ages.

Théâtre Sans Fil, French for ”theater without strings,” was founded in Quebec in 1971 by Artistic and General Director André Viens. Initially inspired by the classical technique of Japanese Bunraku theater, the company successfully united the giant puppet productions with original and modern set design, lighting and music composed by musicians familiar with the art of puppetry.

Fantasy, poetry, make-believe and magic have always figured strongly in TSF’s creations, along with unusual and heroic characters. “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings,” “Ravel’s Bolero and The Child and the Enchantments,” Henriette Major’s “The Crown of Destiny” and “The Dream Catchers” as well as the classic “Hänsel and Gretel” tale are some of the spectacular shows TSF has created over the years that cater to audiences of all ages. The company’s production of “The Hobbit” was created in 1979 and became an instant international success, including playing to sold-out houses at the 1984 Olympics.

Théâtre Sans Fil has given more than 3,000 performances and brought close to three million spectators from more than 20 countries and four continents into the fantastic and enchanting world of its productions. TSF’s undeniable contribution to the exportation of local artistic productions around the world has earned the company a prestigious Tribute Prize from RIDEAU, the Quebec association of artistic presenters, in 1997. To learn more about TSF, visit its website at https://www.theatres.ca.

“The Hobbit,” written by J.R.R. Tolkien who also wrote “The Lord of the Rings” books, was first published in 1937. The novel was adapted into an animated film in 1977 and featured voiceovers by Orson Bean as Bilbo Baggins, Richard Boone as Smaug, Hans Conried as Thorin and John Huston (father of actress Angelica Huston) as Gandalf the Grey.

The TSF production will feature nearly 50 life-size puppets – a theatrical feat in a story with a 25-foot-long dragon and 10-foot-tall trolls and goblins – plus magical effects such as the spinning of giant spider webs under the eerie glow of black lights and lasers.

Set in the fictional world of Middle Earth, the story follows the adventures of a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. While living a quiet life in his home of Bag End, Bilbo is suddenly summoned by the wizard Gandalf the Grey to join him and a band of 13 dwarves on an adventurous quest to reclaim treasure from Smaug, a fearsome dragon.

The performance, sponsored by Russell Investments, will begin Jan. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $9, $19 and $29. The facility is wheelchair accessible, and it is recommended that all accessible seating be requested at the time of ticket purchase. The show is appropriate for all ages.

The Pantages Theater is located at 901 Broadway in downtown Tacoma. Box office hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday noon-4 p.m. For more information or to order tickets, call (253) 591-5890 or visit https://www.broadwaycenter.org. The Broadway Center for the Performing Arts’ next theater production will be “Gaelic Storm,” beginning Jan. 22.

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