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Weekend Ticket: Through the Hobbit Hole

PALT to bring Tolkien’s Middle Earth to stage

The swords and battle axes are sharpened, and everyone’s favorite wizard has found the perfect “burglar” to seek retribution on the dragon Smaug.

Gandalf just has to inspire furry-footed Bilbo Baggins to leave the simple comforts of Afternoon Tea, Elvenses and his Hobbit hole behind.

The Port Arthur Little Theatre is bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth to the stage this month with a three-week run of “The Hobbit,” beginning Friday.

The cast of the Port Arthur Little Theatre’s production of “The Hobbit” rehearse a scene from the upcoming show Wednesday night.

The cast of the Port Arthur Little Theatre’s production of “The Hobbit” rehearse a scene from the upcoming show Wednesday night.

“I grew up on this stuff,” Director Jeff Courts said during rehearsal Wednesday. “My third grade teacher read ‘The Hobbit’ to us, and that’s what started my love of fantasy writing. ‘The Hobbit,’ and subsequently ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ are both great stories.

“Our show is from the only stage script of ‘The Hobbit’ authorized by J.R.R. Tolkien himself. It’s extremely costume-heavy, tech-heavy. Since the movies have come out, especially, we’ve got to do it justice. And I hope I do.”

Courts said audiences will enjoy “The Hobbit” as an iconic tale of good versus evil — but with a masterful sci-fi twist. Courts said while the plot brings conservative Hobbit Bilbo Baggins on a fantastical quest, the real journey for Baggins is discovering himself.

The cast of the Port Arthur Little Theatre’s production of “The Hobbit” rehearse a scene from the upcoming show Wednesday night.

The cast of the Port Arthur Little Theatre’s production of “The Hobbit” rehearse a scene from the upcoming show Wednesday night.

“When you really look at it, ‘The Hobbit’ is about this person who learns there’s a lot more to himself than he ever realized. That’s the journey for Bilbo,” he said.

Courts said while PALT may not have a blockbuster budget, he has taken inspiration from director Peter Jackson — who released a three-film series of “The Lord of the Rings” in the early 2000s and a three-film series of “The Hobbit” between 2012 and 2014.

“For a lot of people who had never read any of the books before, Peter Jackson brought Middle Earth to life,” Courts said. “Yes, they took some artistic liberty — that’s Hollywood — but Middle Earth was on screen the way I’d always envisioned it to be.

The cast of the Port Arthur Little Theatre’s production of “The Hobbit” rehearse a scene from the upcoming show Wednesday night.

The cast of the Port Arthur Little Theatre’s production of “The Hobbit” rehearse a scene from the upcoming show Wednesday night.

“We don’t have a $250 million budget — per movie — to recreate that, but we’ve really stepped it up to do Tolkien right. Our sets are all projection-based, thanks to Lamar State College-Port Arthur. The technology aspect has been an arduous journey — not unlike the one taken by Bilbo (Baggins, the star of the show) — but this stuff is the future of theater. It’s incredible.”

“The Hobbit” will run Oct. 2-4, Oct. 9-11 and Oct. 16-18 in the Port Arthur Little Theatre, 4701 Jimmy Johnson Blvd.

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays.

The cast of the Port Arthur Little Theatre’s production of “The Hobbit” rehearse a scene from the upcoming show Wednesday night.

The cast of the Port Arthur Little Theatre’s production of “The Hobbit” rehearse a scene from the upcoming show Wednesday night.

Tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for seniors, teachers and military, and $6 for students. Groups of 10 can call the PALT reservation line for a group discount.

For reservations, call (409) 727-7258 or visit www.palt.org.

Twitter: @crhenderson90