A Ring cycle in Germany is about as commonplace as beer and bratwurst--but only if you're thinking Wagner. Viennese composer Bernd Stromberger has set J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings to music, and an epic that took two years for Fantasy Musical Productions to mount recently unfolded under a tent in Berlin. LD Chris Laska illuminated this big-top Tolkien, where Bilbo Baggins journeys through a volcano- and waterfall-studded wonderland of strange creatures, fierce battles, and circus-like performances.

Transforming modern Berlin into Middle Earth was no small undertaking for the designer, who relied on MAC and PAL instruments from Martin Professional that were sourced from Procon--which itself requested a complex ringed rig from Total Fabrications. With no frontlight positions available, Laska used toplight, suffused with dichroic color to reduce the problem of shadows on the costumed and bewigged performers. Built into the stage are 14 PALs for the projection of specially created gobos onto the tent walls surrounding the stage; 14 Exterior 600s also light the tent. MAC 500s, fitted with a special gobo wheel, are used for breakups on the stage floor. The Martin Lighting Director for followspots has come in handy for proper tracking of the fight scenes. Nick Moran is the lighting programmer.

The Teutonic Tolkien will play Berlin through 1999, then the $40 million production will travel to other European cities next year, as Miramax further fans the flames of Hobbit hysteria with its own live-action Rings movies.