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Off Broadway Theatre's 'Sort-of the Rings' provides humor of a sort

Published: Friday, Feb. 14 2014 4:30 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Fordo Baggins screams when the wizard Gandolfo drops the One Ring, freshly plucked from the fire, into his hand.

“You said it was quite cool!” exclaims Fordo, played by Cooper Maestas.

Gandolfo, played by Steve Harmon, apologizes and explains that by “cool” he actually meant “awesome.”

Letters appear on the ring, and Gandolfo says the glowing "CTR" stands for “corrupt the righteous” — and that the ring must be destroyed.

Writer and director Rob MacArthur has taken many liberties with the “Lord of the Rings” storyline to create The Off Broadway Theatre's latest musical parody, “Sort-of the Rings.”

Diehard fans of the books, films and surrounding culture will be delighted with many of the references included in the show.

The dark lord Sorry forged the ring but lost it in the laundry, and it ended up in the hands of a Hobbit named Elbow Baggins, says the lady Benadryl, played by Mikael Short, at the production's start. She then breaks into the show’s first song, “I Need a Halfling,” complete with flashing lights and backup dancers.

To begin the quest, Gandolfo visits Elbow Baggins, played by Kyle Allen, at his home and persuades him — it doesn’t take much — to relinquish the ring.

Fordo appears shortly after to inherit the ring, and then he goes on a quest to destroy it. Accompanying him on the quest is Samstupid Gamgee, played by Apollo Stephenson. The character lives up to his name.

Joining them are Eogorm (Clarence Strohn), who spends his time running from his fiancée, Airwhine (Emily Dutson), despite her assurances to him that she’ll make an “eight-cow wife"; Glimpy, played by Ryan Parker, who explains that a problem with his pituitary gland led to his un-dwarflike height; and Leggolass, played by Jacob Miskimins, who combs his hair when he’s not busy fending off the girls who chase after him and telling them to “Leggo, lass!”

Humor within the story ranges from variances on familiar routines such as Abbott and Costello's “Who’s on First," only here with characters apologizing to one another as they try to grasp who Sorry is; or wondering which king is being referred to whenever someone mentions the Witch King; to toilet humor, pop culture references, Mormon-related jokes and unending puns.

The “bromance” between Fordo and Samstupid is also explored — many times — as well as several takes on the phrase “you shall not pass” and multiple instances of the things “one does not simply” do.

One of the show’s best performances is Clint Lehmberg as Spiegel, who scuttles across the stage and delivers his lines in a near-perfect imitation of the film Gollum’s voice. And don't worry, he is wearing a flesh-colored bodysuit.

The jokes fly thick and fast. Not all hit their mark, however. The audience groaned almost as much as it laughed outright. But others ring true, including a line when Fordo and Samstupid are discussing whether to allow Spiegel to guide them on their quest.

“He’s creepy. He talks to people who aren’t there. It’s like riding TRAX!”

The show is shored up with several more musical numbers, including the “Ballad of Elbow Baggins,” and an enthusiastic ensemble that delivers fun and heart.

People don't attend OBT shows for the costumes or the sets; they come to laugh. Those who appreciate this sort of humor will have a great time at "Sort-of the Rings." The show is nearing the end of its run with three performances remaining.

This particular show may not be one for the entire family due to some of its Mormon and gay-related humor.

For more information or tickets, call 801-355-4628 or visit theobt.org.

If you go ...

What: "Sort-of the Rings"

Where: The Off Broadway Theatre, 272 S. Main, Salt Lake City

When: Feb. 17, 21 and 22, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $16 for adults, $10 for children ages 2-12

Tickets: 801-355-4628 or theobt.org

Email: rbrutsch@deseretnews.com

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