Every year, the Green Room — Amherst College’s only student-run theater group — kicks off its production season with a parody of some cultural touchstone. Past years have seen student-written spoofs of “Star Wars” and the Disney Cinematic Universe. While Covid prevented Green Room from producing any parodies (or in-person shows at all) in 2020, this year they’ve returned with “The Lord of the Rings Parody,” to debut this Friday, Oct. 15.
Last Thursday, Oct. 7, I stopped by the Ford Hall Event Space to watch one of the parody’s first dress rehearsals. I showed up early, partially in an attempt to avoid writing my French midterm paper, and when I walked in, I realized there were only five other people in the room. The stage manager, Leland Culver ’24, had come in early to set up the lighting, and four actors who had arrived early were sitting in the back, alternating between squeezing in some last bits of homework, talking about new props that had just arrived and discussing the Legend of Zelda video games.
Over the next hour, the rest of the cast and crew came streaming in. The show’s director, Sam Beach ’22 told me that Green Room’s parodies tend to have some of the largest casts of any of the club’s shows, offering first-years an early opportunity to go through the process of making and performing in a college show. “The Lord of the Rings Parody” is no different, boasting an 18-person cast chosen from a 45-person audition pool. Beach remarked that the record turnout for auditions was surprising, which made selecting the final cast an especially difficult process.
As more cast and crew members showed up, the room got busier and busier. Unsurprisingly, the last few weeks before a show are always the most hectic. It’s the time when the technical elements — lights, sounds, costumes, props, etc. — finally get added to the acting, which has been getting honed over the previous months. That Thursday, most of the costuming elements were still waiting to be added, but Costuming Manager Grace Walker ’24 did show me some of her favorite finds for the play, including a comically large ZZ-Top imitation beard for Gimli and some impressively sinister orc horns.
The lighting systems and most of the props had been implemented though, and the room began to divide up into small groups. Beach and one set of actors were trying to figure out a system to throw “the One Ring” (represented with a ring pop) off stage without breaking it: in their last run, it shattered against a wall, leaving a mess of half-dissolved sugar to clean up. Other groups were practicing choreography, and still others were going over lines a last time.
Then the play started. Co-written by six Green Room members (Sam Beach ’22, Grace Walker ’24, Leland Culver ’24, Petra Brusiloff ’24, Luke Herzog ’24 and Shay Hernandez ‘23) over the summer, the parody energetically blasts through the trilogy’s plot, hitting each of its major plot points with comedic twists. The result of such a large group of writers is a show with no shortage of creative reimaginings of Tolkien’s work. One of my favorites was a plotline following two orcs trying to unionize for better working conditions in Saruman’s factories. Equally funny is a gameshow version of the Council of Elrond which allows for brilliantly cheesy Bachelor-style introductions for many of the show’s central characters like Legolas (played by Dylan Schor ’25).
The over-the-top characters are the show’s centerpiece, and while I only saw a first dress rehearsal, the actors’ performances were already confident and hilarious. Each actor leans hard into the funniest aspects of their characters, pushing their quirks to the point of absurdity. Frodo (played by Reina Corcoran ’23), for example, is not just homesick but almost completely unable to stop talking about his home’s market value and terrified by the thought that he’s “left the iron on.” Meanwhile Aragorn (played by Ricky Andrade ’25) clearly crosses the line between brooding and all-out emo, and instead of just being kind of annoying, Pippin (played by Shay Hernandez ’23) is a literal Twitch livestreamer.
Between its original plotlines and larger than life characters, “The Lord of the Rings Parody” is a hilarious and high energy way to kick off Green Room’s return to in-person performances this semester, which will continue the following weekend with a performance of the murder mystery “Deathrap.” I’d highly recommend the parody to anyone looking for a fun way to lighten this midterm season.
“The Lord of the Rings Parody” will open in the Ford Hall Event Space on Friday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. with following performances at the same time Oct. 16 and at 3 p.m on Oct. 17.