Musical Review: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Details: I couldn’t find any official site with information so here’s the wikipedia site and the NY Times review: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunchback_of_Notre_Dame_(musical) https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/19/theater/review-hunchback-of-notre-dame-at-paper-mill-playhouse.html

Score: 8.4/10

This production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. There is no doubt in my mind that if this show actually made it to Broadway (which it didn’t), it would have been flooded with Tony Award nomination and a few Tony Awards as well.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is based on the Disney cartoon movie of the same name. It’s about a deformed baby named Quasimodo who is adopted into the church at Notre Dame. Quasimodo grows up and lives a life of isolation as the bell ringer at the church. His only contact with anyone is the clergyman who adopted him, Frollo. Things escalate when Quasimodo decides to finally explore the town below and a chain events lead to the endangerment of Quasimodo and many of the cities inhabitants.

The productions values here are amazing. The set is fairly large with these giant bells hanging in the middle of the stage.There’s also a choir in the back that really blasts you with vocals.

The story is also different and darker than the cartoon Disney movie. Here, Quasimodo is clearly deformed not only in how he looks but in how he speaks and moves. The only time Quasimodo speaks clearly is when he’s singing, which reflects his inner monologue. The gargoyles are clearly figments of his imagination. Frollo is also fleshed out more and given more dimensions. Instead of a love triangle between the soldier, Quasimodo and Esmeralda, Frolly is added into the mix to make a love quadrilateral. This was hinted at in the Disney movie, but it’s undeniable in the musical. I liked this change as it added depth to Frollo and added to the drama. Song lyrics have also been changed to reflect the darker tone.

This musical also benefits from having three of the most talented actors with two of them some of the most talented singers I’ve ever heard. Michael Arden played Quasimodo and is amazing. His voice is uniquely full sounding and beautiful, matched and maybe even exceeded by Ciara Renee’s voice. Truly a genetically blessed person, Ciara Renee plays Esmeralda (and Hawkgirl on the CW superhero shows) and is as beautiful to see as she is to hear. Here’s a taste of Arden’s and Renee’s singing ability below.

Patrick Page rounds out the trio with a talented performance and a uniquely low singing voice. These three elevate the show to a point where if it actually reached Broadway, it would likely have won a bunch of Tony Awards.

Overall, this show was amazing. I wish this show would have made it to Broadway, but Disney put the kibosh on it. I can see why though. This is a darker, more serious show than Lion King, Aladdin, or Frozen. If you’re a tourist taking children to a fun show in New York City, this would likely be a poor decision. It’s too adult and would likely play better to adult fans of the theater. There’s more money in unknowing tourists than critical theater fans.

Score: 8.4/10

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