There are some genuinely funny bits in Fellowship! The Musical Parody of "The Fellowship of the Ring", now on view at the Chernuchin Theatre. But overall, a proliferation of lame jokes and generic music make the 100-minute show seem as long as the actual Lord of the Rings film adaptation, and only a fraction as entertaining.
The piece -- which features music by Allen Simpson, a book by director Joel McCrary and Kelly Holden-Bashar, and lyrics and/or additional material by the entire cast -- tackles the first part of J.R. Tolkien's trilogy in which young hobbit Frodo (Cory Rouse) begins an epic journey to destroy a powerful magic ring.
The narrative arc of the musical rather faithfully follows the basic trajectory of its source material, but takes a few more detours when it comes to characterization. As might be expected, the subtextual homoeroticism between Frodo and Sam (Peter Allen Vogt) is made rather blatant here, while the show also pokes fun at the Elvish dialogue between Strider (Matthew Stephen Young) and Arwen (Edi Patterson); the rivalry between dwarf Gimli (Lisa Frederickson) and elf Legolas (Patterson); lapses in logic within the trilogy's plot, and much more.
Rouse is easily the best singer in the cast, and credibly apes the sweet, wide-eyed innocence of his film counterpart, Elijah Wood. Vogt, on the other hand, chews the scenery with annoying abandon, particularly in his secondary role as The Balrog, who engages in fourth-wall breaking patter with the audience in "The Balrog Blues."
McCrary makes good use of toys and puppets to amusingly (and cheaply) stage certain special effects, with Jeffrey Cady's projections tracking the various shifts in location. But the overall pacing tends to drag and the musical numbers never enliven the action as much as one might hope.
-- Dan Bacalzo