the la jolla playhouse

How to make Frozen on Broadway better
  • Give Elsa an undefinable disability
  • Make Hans a priest
  • Change Anna into a ethnic dancer
  • Have Olaf be several voices inside Elsa’s head
  • Get rid of the magic
  • Put it in France
  • Specifically at Notre Dame cathedral
  • Actually just put Hunchback on Broadway

“I don’t understand… Why me? Why me, of all people??”

“I don’t know why, I wish I knew! …Sometimes we’re drawn to the very things that repel us..”

“…God, you really are a monster..”

“No! No, Esmeralda, no! If these last few weeks have taught me anything, it’s that my curse is.. I’m truly human. Take pity on me. I desert myself. You don’t know what my love for you is! It’s fire! It’s hot lead!”

Gypsy witch, you rouse in me

A foolish wish to set you free!

I’ll take you somewhere I can be

Your Sanctuary!

I will save you, sorceress,

And raise you up to holiness!

Together, we will share a

Blessed Sanctuary!”

Part of a commission for the lovely enseeseven, which I’m sure will be the first of many. A shoutout to the sinisterly perfect Patrick Page as the Archdeacon Claude Frollo in a spellbinding run in La Jolla and Paper Mill with The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Future view goals…

6

Now that the show has closed and I won’t spoil anything for anyone, I can talk about the stage musical version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

It was absolutely magnificent!

This production was everything that as an adult I wish the movie was. It was dark, it was uplifting, it was soul stirring, it was humbling. 

I really applaud Disney for not playing it safe on this one. They could have given us the movie moved to the stage with a few new songs added, but instead, they went back to the book, made a LOT of departures from the movie, and went balls to the wall with it. The cast did such an amazing job bringing new life to the characters that so many people have known and loved for years. 

As I said, they went back to the original novel for plot points and characterizations.

The three wisecracking gargoyles are not in this production (thank God IMHO), and are replaced by a sort of Greek chorus, who serve as the narrators, townspeople, Gypsies, and others. Among those others are the inanimate objects – the bells, gargoyles, statues, etc. – that Quasimodo has, in his mind, given life to.

Frollo is back to being the Archdeacon of Notre Dame, which in my opinion makes him less of a villain with no redeeming qualities and a lot more interesting, as we do get to see his compassionate side when he speaks to Esmeralda about teaching her about Jesus Christ and thinking that he can save her soul by converting her to Christianity. The fact of his religiously imposed vows of chastity also makes his lust for her a lot more of an issue for him then when he is just a judge. Patrick Page does an amazing job wrestling with these emotions (and sometimes sound so much like Tony Jay, who provided Frollo’s voice for the movie, that it’s scary). He’s also given a back story with his brother Jehan which gives some explanation of his harshness.

Quasimodo is mostly deaf from constantly being in such close proximity to the massively large and loud bells. When he speaks to the other human characters in the show, he uses rudimentary sign language and affected speech. Michael Arden as Quasimodo does a fantastic job of fading out the hindrances to his speech when he speaks to the inanimate objects, and removing it almost completely while singing. Check out this clip of “Out There” to see what I mean - https://youtu.be/1Zig-tvlJ5k

Phoebus and Esmeralda’s characters are not that different from how they are portrayed in the film, but we do get to see more of their relationship develop and we get a bit of Phoebus’s background as a soldier. And, !!!!!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!! we don’t get the happily ever after Disney ending in this one, folks. The musical uses the novel’s ending.

The additional songs fit with the original songs very well. I was very happy to see that they took the practice that they used in Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King of making new songs out of existing pieces of the movie’s score. They also use the song “Someday” that was recorded for the end credits of the movie and turned that into a duet for Esmeralda and Phoebus.  

I really don’t have enough adequate words to describe this production. It was truly amazing.

Unfortunately, as of right now, there are no plans to move the show to Broadway. There is the possibility of a West End run, but it would have changes made and probably would end up not being the same show. In my opinion, the show does not need to be changed. It is absolutely beautiful the way it was.

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