“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
I will save you, sorceress,
And raise you up to holiness!
Together, we will share a
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.
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
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
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
“We began talking about theater; she knew all about the La Jolla Playhouse Summer Theater, where Greg Peck and I had been co-producing plays. She also said she’d seen me three times in the movie Lili. Finally, she said she’d like to do a play with me, and she asked me to send her a likely play if I found one.”