An exclusive interview with The Lord of the Rings’ director Matthew Warchus

Tuesday 5 June 2007

Things really do happen after a Badedas bath. Andrew had had his ritual annual bath only that morning and sure enough a drama ensued.

The Whingers were sitting in the stalls of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane last night, minding their own business (OK, not entirely true that bit; never is) when a man who had been sitting a few seats away pounced on them.

The Whingers were understandably startled, focused as they were on re-adjusting their coiffures after the spectacular and literally hair raising ending to Act One of The Lord of the Rings – the Musical!

The conversation went like this:

Man from Chair (somewhat aggressively): What are you writing?
Andrew (clutching his notebook for dear life): Words?
Man from Chair (somewhat snappily): What for?
Andrew: Why?
Man from Chair (somewhat snappily): I’m the director. What are you writing for?
Phil (frozen like a rabbit in car headlights): A blog?
Man in chair: Which blog?
Phil (clearly uncomfortable being transported back to his deeply traumatic school days and being told off by the headmaster – the root of his persistent problems with authority figures, but that’s another story) (blurting out): West End Whingers.
Man from Chair (somewhat satisfied): As long as you are not from the press.

Man from Chair wanders off towards his companion (woman in chair who had also been writing notes but presumably was allowed to write notes).

warchus1.jpgSo it was that the Whingers’ first ever celebrity interview turned out to consist of director Matthew Warchus interrogating the Whingers, which wasn’t how they imagined it would happen at all.

In their defence, the Whingers had no idea that the writing of words in the auditorium was strictly prohibited. Mobile phones, smoking, talking, break dancing, breaking wind – yes the Whingers can see why all these things might be discouraged in the theatre.

Anyway, it was much a more alarming experience than the rest of the audience endured – they only had troublesome Orcs on crutches attempting to terrorise them (note to Mr Warchus: drop the crutches; they don’t really say “menacing”).

The Whingers – alarmed at the invasion of their own little world by a real live person – raced in terror to the bar in search of a tonic (tonic found, but at a price: small glass of red wine: £4.70).

Towards the end of the interval, Andrew returned to his seat alone (Phil was attending to his pea-sized bladder yet again) and Mr Warchus sidled up and sat next to him, and started talking to him in a more conciliatory tone. This time it was Andrew’s turn to stir things up, albeit unintentionally.

Man from Chair: Hi, I just….
Andrew: Before we start, I just want to tell you something.
Man from Chair: What?
Andrew: One of the best evenings we’ve spent at the theatre so far in the last year…
Man from Chair (interruption): Thank you. Glad you’re enjoying it.
Andrew: No, not this. Boeing, Boeing*. Very funny.

Thankfully for Andrew, MW glossed over this genuinely unintended faux pas and went on to explain that following the recent on-stage accident the staging of the battles in Acts 2 and 3 had been scaled back until the machinery could be made entirely safe. 70 per cent of the uppiness-and-downiness (Andrew is paraphrasing here) of the revolve had been cut out and the battles portrayed on a mostly flat set.

Andrew enquired as to the well-being of the injured swing Adam Salter and MW reported that he was still in hospital, but it’s only soft-tissue damage and he will be back in the show in time for his birthday in August(!)

At this point, Phil returned to claim his seat and blundered into things by telling MW how much the Whingers had enjoyed Boeing, Boeing in spite of their scathing prediction that it would be terrible.

Some idle chit-chat followed circumventing- it would seem by common consent – the elephant in the room, of which the second act was about to begin.


Phil reports that Mr Warchus was surprisingly young, good looking and rather charming, although how Phil can tell this when he spent most of the time looking at his own shoes is a bit of a mystery. Phil’s theory is that MW has a lot riding on this show and is hoping to follow the Nicholas Hytner (Miss Saigon), Trevor Nunn (Cats, Les Miserables etc) route hoping that this show, should it run, will provide his pension. The irony is that – if it doesn’t – Boeing, Boeing could well do. It looks as though it’s a long-haul show and now Rhea Perlman (Carla from Cheers) is joining the cast.

* Warchus directed Boeing, Boeing

PS: Here’s the review.


2 Responses to “An exclusive interview with The Lord of the Rings’ director Matthew Warchus”

  1. Helen Smith Says:

    The interview with Matthew Warcus is a classic. I love your blog. Since I discovered it, I’ve given up going to the theatre altogether – it’s much more entertaining (and cheaper) to stay at home and read what you have to say about the shows instead.

    In a few years time I hope to be able to use the money I’ve saved on theatre tickets for some kind of philanthropic venture – a retirement home for theatre critics, perhaps? I could probably name the hospital wing after you. I’ll let you know.

  2. Thank you, Helen Smith, for your kind words.

    It’s good to know that someone is benefitting from our own contribution to society which is to go to the theatre so other people don’t have to.

    I don’t think theatre critics ever retire though, do they?

    The hospital wing offer is delightful and touching. Perhaps we could have a department each? I suggest the Whinger Andrew Mental Decline Unit. And the Whinger Phil Unit for Abused Livers.

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