Hunchback of Notre Dame Musical performing Esmeralda picture image

Ensemble performing Esmeralda

As I write this post, there is no plan to have the American version of the Disney movie of the Hunchback of Notre Dame to go to Broadway. As it stands the play is going to regional theaters. That is  not to say that the musical couldn’t go to Broadway in the future or even that regional production are a bad thing. As of now, Disney will send an adaption of Frozen to the Broadway stage which is understandable as Frozen is Disney’s cash-cow at the moment but there is more at work.

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda singing God Help the Outcasts, production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda singing God Help the Outcasts, production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

I can’t speak that I know the decision making process though I except that money does have a lot to do with it. And considering that Anastasia musical is going to Broadway, Disney can’t have another company’s Princess movie make money, so Frozen goes, but I do suspect that that two style approach to the Hunchback musical did hurt it a bit.

Michael Arden as Quasimodo, Musical Production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michael Arden as Quasimodo, Musical Production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

First off I really can’t imagine Broadway wanting a Disney show that wasn’t the same opulent style as the other Disney shows. Frozen and Anastasia fit in better to this aesthetic. I can see the producers of the Hunchabck wanted to make it more realistic like Les Mis but do we need another version of Le Miz on Broadway? No. Both stories are by the same author even. Should the Hunchback  musical have opted for a more opulent style? It’s hard to say with the limitations of the theaters but I think on some level this show was going for the Le Mis style with the Disney story in mind hence the odd sense of rich minimal that didn’t really work in the end.

Hunchback of Notre Dame Set picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame Set

It does raise an interesting question, has the success of Les Mis kept Hunchback off Broadway? To my knowledge there has not been a version of Hunchback on Broadway. This version and Notre Dame de Paris seem like likely candidates but Notre Dame de Paris only played in Las Vegas for six months. Even Dennis DeYoung and Lionel Bart’s musical played in other theaters.

Ciara Renée as Esmeralda and Andrew Samonsky as Phoebus Hunchback of Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Ciara Renée as Esmeralda and Andrew Samonsky as Phoebus

I think the musical would need to be massively reworked to fit with the Disney brand musical aesthetic, I.e a super over-the-top spectacle  or totally embrace a minimal approach akin to Notre Dame de Paris.

Michael Arden as Quasimodo with Saint Aphrodisius, Musical Production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michael Arden as Quasimodo with Saint Aphrodisius, Musical Production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

We’ll have to see how the regional shows choice to address the style.  Maybe one production can solve the show issues because it would be great for this story to get the Broadway recognition.

Also I know it was selling point but the Gargoyle did not beat the chorus. I’m sorry it didn’t work. You can have them  but having extra try to be characters didn’t really work at all. At least make three of more interesting compelling characters. You don’t have to call them gargoyles. It just made the show seem amateurish to extras doing everything.

 

Ciara Renée as Esmeralda and Andrew Samonsky as Phoebus Hunchback of Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Ciara Renée as Esmeralda and Andrew Samonsky as Phoebus

On the whole, I like the costumes. There is a lot of good textures and colors that match the spirit of the Disney movie but elevates them to the stage. In particular, I really like  Esmeralda’s main costume and Phoebus’ costume. While I don’t they are accurate to the actual historical times they don’t really have to be. Though I did look up Burgundian fashion/armor and Phoebus might not be too far off, but really it does matter. Esmeralda has a very good re-imaginaing of her Disney look. I find it a bit curious that her hip scarf is devore, which is a velvet that have treated so that fibers are burned away resulting in a pretty pattern. Kind of like this. I find it curious because I have longed suspected that Esmeralda’s original Notre Dame de Paris costume was done with a similar technique so is it an homage or coincidence? I think it’s a coincidence but I like to think it’s an homage.

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda, Papermill production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda, Papermill production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

Her other costumes  are fine too, though I get shade of Ariel’s seashell bra with her red dress in the bodice. Not a criticism, it just something I noticed.

Patrick Page as Frollo singing Hellfire, Papermills Hunchback of Notre Dame, Picture image

Patrick Page as Frollo singing Hellfire, Papermills

However there are aspects of the costume and make-up are I find to be lacking.

Let’s start with Frollo. Poor Frollo, I have not been kind to this version of him. First off Frollo gets like two costume changes.  The black outfit he wears at the start before he takes his vows and during the curtain call. His other costume is his vestments which is his principle costume. He does also wear a black cloak when he goes to the bar. There isn’t so much as issue with his costume as  does fit with his character and profession but they could have done more. His vestment is white with a black stole with a red lining and that is fine but they should made different stoles that cover more of the pure white robe as he  falls deeper into lust because his lust was hardly ever communicated in his acting. Frollo is so cool in this version with minor bits of it here and there because the songs had the lines in the lyrics. Making his costume get a blacker as the show went on would have been a great little visual clue to his psyche as his lust consumes him.

 

Michael Arden as Quasimodo performing Made of Stone Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michael Arden as Quasimodo performing Made of Stone

 

Kind of a similar issue I had with costumes functioning oddly  was the congregation removing their cowls during Made of Stone. The idea was that that they were aspects of Quasimodo’s mind as well as personified in stone but because they actors  are both the statues and people as other points in the show, taking off the cowl reads more of a costume change and they are going for the stones that are Quasmodo imaginary friends to regular towns people. I would have had them pull up the hoods of the cowls to hid their face i.e. losing the humanity Quasimodo gave them and fading into the darkness as soulless statues of stone. Not throwing off the cowl entirely.     (sorry for the bad picture)

Michael Arden as Quasimodo with Saint Aphrodisius, Musical Production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michael Arden as Quasimodo with Saint Aphrodisius, Musical Production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

Hey speaking of Quasimodo, his make-up. I have so many issues with his make-up. I get what they were doing, they wanted to drive the point of what makes a monster and what makes a man by having the actor literally transform into Quasimodo on stage. This is a gimmick and it serves to make it seem like the audience wouldn’t get the point and ultimetly making the Disney movie more mature and taking it audience more seriously.

Also this is not a great transformation, the actor applies like two lines of face paint to his face and that is his facial deformity. Honesty, I don’t have a issue with making the make-up minimal and having the actor do more of the work to convey Quasimodo’s deformity, that is what Notre Dame de Paris did and they had a much more minimal of a  style and they still be more lines on Quasimodo’s face, making that make-up more elaborate. Also it’s not super impressive from a stagecraft perceptive to have a grand set and lines for make-up for a character that is supposed to have facial deformity. Maybe had they added a little bit more to that real time transformation, like an eye protusion prothetic it would have been a little more impressive.  Der Glockner’s make-up wasn’t anything amazing and yet it looks like the Phantom of the Opera comparatively but that wasn’t the point they wanted to be minimal, (or save on the make-up budget.)

The issue of “minimalism” is something that will get discussed in the  next post but it seems like there is a solid disconnect of the make-up, the costumes and the sets. For the most part the sets and the costume go together fine. They are not what would considered overly grand and elaborate  but they  richly colored and textured but the make-up is minimal? It’s just weird especially for a character who is known for a facial deformity? That is like making the Phantom of the Opera’s deformirt look like a sunburn, oh wait they did that.

It was a decent thought for Quasimodo’s make-up but it was misguided and lacking in execution. It’s like they needed to pick a style and commit, not have aspects of the production to be one style and other aspects be another.

 

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I could not resist sharing these.

Disney Esmeralda Balloon Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Disney Esmeralda Balloon

They are Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame Balloons which I only found as the result of a typo. Typos are magical

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau picture image

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

There is no shortage of actors in the world who could be cast as Phoebus. At his most basic Hugo-ian level, a handsome jerk is not a hard role but Phoebus does get facets in his personality that versions can and do add in to his characterization. He is sometimes the hero, a reformed rake, a jerk-face villain or an extra. He is a swiss army knife character. That is why sometimes you need an actor who is at the ready, who is capable of playing all those types of roles, sans the extra. One such actor is one Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Game of Thrones picture image

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Game of Thrones

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is best known for playing Jaime Lannister on HBO’s Game of Thrones. And if that doesn’t speak to Coster-Waldau’s ability to play Phoebus, I don’t know what else to say. Well to be fair, Jaime is not the womanize Phoebus is after all Jaime has only been with one woman (his twin sister) but that is beside the point. Coster-Waldau has the acting chops to play Phoebus effectively no matter what role the movie cast for  Phoebus.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau picture image

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

On looks, Coster-Waldau has what I think is the ideal look for Phoebus. He looks like a prince charming which Phoebus needs. Phoesbus has to be a pretty boy to foil both Quasimodo and Frollo. Ideally Phoebus should be shining like the sun, (pardon the lyric use from Notre Dame be Paris.) Honestly, I don’t think you get more of a good of a look to Phoebus than Coster-Waldau.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau picture image

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

 

But what do you think? Would Nikolaj Coster-Waldau makes good Phoebus? Bad Phoebus? Or Great Phoebus?

Also the Game of Thrones book series, A Song of Ice and Fire makes for some excellent summer reading.

 

 

Hunchback of Notre Dame Musical performing Esmeralda picture image

Ensemble performing Esmeralda

Last time we talked about the overall set from the American version and in general I liked it. It was a good simplifying of Notre Dame itself. Click here to read that post. However the problem that arises from fairly stationary main set piece is they way other scene outside of Notre Dame are communicated to the audience and in some case even the faced of Notre Dame itself. The American version of the Disney musical used moving set pieces as well as lighting. This also the approached that Notre Dame de Paris used and still uses today, albeit they have less set pieces and use more lighting and abstraction.

Hunchback of Notre Dame Set picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame Set

While I do like the primary set, all the other such i.e the set pieces, the extras and the cast does make for a lot of chaos on the stage and makes it at time seem like a cluttered mess. There is just too much and to be fair the differing patterns of the floor with the Rose window of the backdrop doesn’t help. If anything, it like the use of the extras made it lack focus.

On Top of the World Der Glockner von Notre Dame. picture image

On Top of the World Der Glockner von Notre Dame.

The American Musical version’s closest other version besides the movie, is the 1999 version musical Der Glockner von Notre Dame. Glockner also had a lot of moving parts but in a a very different way. To communicate the height of the Cathedral they used hydraulic lifts with screens and projections.

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda, Papermill production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda, Papermill production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

Both approaches is an apple and oranges kind of thing and not every production can have hydraulic lifts, moving set pieces are an easier more flexible approach. By I won’t pretend that I don’t like hydraulic lifts, they are cool to see in action. However there is a price, having your character higher in the high makes them higher from the audiences and it easier to loose that characters connection to the audience.

Michael Arden as Quasimodo, Musical Production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michael Arden as Quasimodo, Musical Production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

The use of the American Musical moving set pieces isn’t the issue, the issue is how clutter it made things. And when compare to Der Glockner which has it levels and tier that coalesce better and seem more purposeful, it does seem like American version once again could have use some editing.

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And I still sick so I’m sorry this post is more confused than normal.

 

 

Due to personal reasons and being quite sick I’m going to have postpone the review for this week. Usually I’m better at scheduling posts if I know I’m going to be busy but I didn’t count on getting sick, it happens. Hopefully next week I will make up for this post, so maybe two review post next week, it depends.

In the meantime if you haven’t  voted in the poll yet, you can. It looks like French Parody one is winning.

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Hunchback of Notre Dame Set picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame Set

I have a bit of a confession to make, I really wrote myself into a little corner with this post as originally I had planned to discuss the Gargoyles VS the chorus but I just did that in a more organic fashion last week and I don’t what to be knowingly redundant. After looking through the production, I found my muse, one Alexander Dodge.

Alexander Dodge was the set designer for the American production of the Disney Musical. His other work include, The Tempest, Ghost of Versailles and Anastasia for the Hartford Stage. Anastasia is based on the Don Bluthe movie and is going to Broadway. You can check his work here which is gorgeous.

The Hunchback set is lovely. It does a good job of basically simplifying the cathedral into its main parts os action but working upwards. The floor represent the Sanctuary, the Rose window and the Statues the Middle portions and the bells for the Bell Tower. It’s not hard to understand.  Places outside of Notre Dame are communicated more with set pieces and lightening.

I feel like there is a large disconnect between the vision of the musical trying to slightly minimal with Quisimodo’s deformity and the extras filling in as set pieces with the grand vastness of the set. For instance when Quasimodo is saving Esmeralda, he goes through the Gallery of Kings. The Gallery of Kings is represented with the Extras but they are also part of the set on the sides.  It would have been confusing to an average viewer and the set could have allowed for that. I guess because the extras go back and forth between the animated and stone states that their poses made it clear but I was even confused for a second.

Overall the sets were not so much the issue the vision of the production was problematic. Also a lot of the time it was hard to even see the set through all the moving parts, i.e the set pieces and the extras.

 

 

 

Just for the record, this more on the story/characters and not the technicals of the show, that comes next month.

Michael Arden as Quasimodo, Musical Production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michael Arden as Quasimodo, Musical Production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

I think it’s pretty clear that I’m a little mixed with a leaning towards not liking the show. The Disney plot and the book elements didn’t blend together at all. The only element that worked with regards to the movie and the book was Phoebus and too be fair the 1923 Lon Chaney version did the same type of arc with Phoebus. It’s a classic asshole womanizer turn good when he falls in love trope. 1980’s Teen Movies and Trashy Romance novels do this character all the time, it’s not a hard arc to write. The only character that is likable is Esmeralda and she just Disney Esmeralda with a touch of Der Glockner throw in for good measure.

Michael Arden as Quasimodo with Saint Aphrodisius, Musical Production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michael Arden as Quasimodo with Saint Aphrodisius, Musical Production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

It seemed that a lot of people were happy when they heard that there would be no Gargoyles in the show. The lack of the Gargoyles in this version gave the production legitimacy and maturity however the gargoyles shouldn’t have a problem.  The Disney characterization of the gargoyles was the problem not just having the characters in the show. The personalities could have been easily tweaked, I.E no fart jokes. They could have written them such that they were represented of Quasimodo’s Id, Ego and Super Ego. Even if that is an obvious attempt at seeming smart it’s still an attempt at writing characters and not filling the stage with extras. It was easier to write non-character extras or simply the congregation than writing and fixing the gargoyle characters like what Der Glockner did, although they were boring they were still characters.

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda, Papermill production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda, Papermill production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

The congregation also had another ill-affect to another character, they made Clopin useless. Clopin really does nothing in this musical. In the Disney movie Clopin takes on a few roles; he is the story-teller, leader of the Court of Miracles and a performer. It’s the story-teller role however that gives him his importance. It makes more interesting. Without that role his other roles could have been filled by the congregation and no one really would have noticed.

Hunchback of Notre Dame Musical performing Esmeralda picture image

Ensemble performing Esmeralda

Ultimately the concept of blending the Disney movie and the book didn’t work as this musical presented the  story. It was disappointing to say the least. With more tweaking and editing it could have have worked into a fluid narrative that would been more impactful and bittersweet. The music was good, so it wasn’t ALL bad.

Note for next month – Next month I’m taking a minor break. This means there will only be five posts in June. I’m only going to posts Tuesday and one Wednesday for a casting post since people seem to enjoy though. I can’t say if this will be for the whole Summer or just June but I need break.

Also here is a poll for what should be  reviewed next. It expires June 30th

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This is a list of the Best Live-Action Fairy Tale movies that were reviewed. In a lot of ways this list was harder than the worst list since I had the opposite problem there were a dearth of stellar movies but somehow it hit that target.

 

Number #10 

Gemma Craven as Cinderella and Richard Chamberlain as Prince Edward The Slipper and the Rose Cinderella picture image

Gemma Craven as Cinderella and Richard Chamberlain as Prince Edward

The Slipper and the Rose – Originally this was the movie for the surprised/liked list but it broke off from that for  a few reasons. The biggest reason is this the only Cinderella movie that have the godmother doing more stuff for Cinderella and gives a reason for why the magic has a limit. It also just addresses some other issue with the story and while characters aren’t amazing they are likable and there is more than just the Cinderella story being told. Plus the songs and the costumes are awesome.

 

Number #9

Jen with the Skeksis Chamberlain The Dark Crystal picture image

Jen with the Skeksis Chamberlain

The Dark Crystal – There really isn’t anything quite like The Dark Crystal. It has a lot of artistry,  imagination, and heart. The story is dark yet complex and still fairly accessible.

Number #8 

Libuše Šafránková as Cinderella with Pavel Trávníček as the Prince at the ball Three Wishes for Cinderella picture image

Libuše Šafránková as Cinderella with Pavel Trávníček as the Prince at the ball

Three Wishes for Cinderella – In a lot of ways this movie is another breath of fresh air for the Cinderella story. While  there is magic there is no fairy godmother but instead an owl and hazelnuts. Cinderella in this version is very able; she rides, hunts and is clever while still being kind. I do like that she veils her face so no one can recognizes her, even the prince. Plus the snow landscapes are lovely.

 

Number #7 

Ron Perlman as One and Judith Vittet as Miette The City of Lost Children picture image

Ron Perlman as One and Judith Vittet as Miette

City of Lost Children – You don’t get much more surreal than this one. The weird imaginary just adds so much to this story that it makes it more of a fairy tale.

Number #6

Ivana Baquero as Ofelia with Faun Pan’s Labyrinth picture image

Ivana Baquero as Ofelia with Faun

Pan’s Labyrinth – This movie is intoxicating. It combines a beautiful dark fairy tale with the horrors of reality within the context of Fascist Spain. I do wish that it wasn’t so balanced between the two settings as the fairy tale elements were better but that could be just wanting more of it.

 

Number #5

Noah Hathaway as Atreyu and Falkor The Neverending Story picture image

Noah Hathaway as Atreyu and Falkor

The Never Ending Story –  This movie traumatized so many children in the 80’s but it’s just pure uncut nostalgia that you can’t deny it. While it does have complex idea at play the philosophies in this story are lovely. Plus Falcor is awesome.

Number #4 

Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands & Winona Ryder as Kim Boggs Edward Scissorhands picture image

Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands & Winona Ryder as Kim Boggs

Edward Scissorhands – Edward Scissorhands effortlessly combines a lot of fairy tale tropes into a modern setting. It’s a beautiful bittersweet tale that is very emotionally charged.

Number #3

Drew Barrymore as Danielle and Dougray Scott as Prince Henry Ever After: A Cinderella Story picture image

Drew Barrymore as Danielle and Dougray Scott as Prince Henry

Ever After – Let’s not pretend that this isn’t the best Cinderella movie. This movie gives story gives Cinderella a.k.a Danielle  the most acengy she can possible have while still being the Cinderella character and it does it well. All the Cinderella elements are there is someway but the are elevated in such a way that makes them make sense in the story and the world. Plus it’s a fun movie with great costumes.

 

Number #2

Cary Elwes as Westley and Robin Wright as Buttercup The Princess Bride picture image

Cary Elwes as Westley and Robin Wright as Buttercup

The Princess Bride – Another nostalgia bomb. I’m not sure would really understand a person if the didn’t like something about this movie, it literally has everything and it’s super entertaining and vastly quotable.

 

Number #1

Josette Day as Belle and Jean Marais as The Beast La Belle et la Bete Jean Cocteau 1946 picture image

Josette Day as Belle and Jean Marais as The Beast

La Belle et la Bete – There should be no surprise here, that the 1946 Belle et la Bete movie would be number one.  It’s just so perfect. It’s only flaw is that it knows it’s flawed and the story doesn’t make sense so it tells you to keep your childlike sensibility and just hits you with a dream-like movie.

I do hope the Disney Live-action remake will be on the level of the 1946 movie. Maybe when it comes out next year I will review it but till then the blog is moving on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Francia Raisa picture image

Francia Raisa

Three years ago I did a post comparing HBO’s Game of Thrones and Hunchback , in which I said Arianne Martel resembled Esmeralda in the looks department and I quote myself here “I would say whoever they get to cast her for the show could make a lovely Esmeralda…”  However stupid poo show runners cut Arianne from the show and made that whole storyline stupid. However since other people like to do speculative casting I thought heck let’s just find a hypothetical casting for Arianne Martel and apply that actress to Esmeralda. One actress that came up was Francia Raisa.

Francia Raisa picture image

Francia Raisa

Francia Raisa is an American Actress  of Mexican and Honduran decent.  This gives her a very good look for Esmeralda. As is the case for most movie Esmeraldas is that she looks exotic to the “standard French type.” So her look is one point for most movie versions of the character. She also has soft features which makes her look cute, so she has the whole cute yet sensual aspect that is very applicable to Esmeralda.

Francia Raisa as Shahrzad in Beyond Paradise picture image

Francia Raisa as Shahrzad in Beyond Paradise

As far as acting goes, I can’t super speak to her ability. She is most known her role on the TV show The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Bring it On: All or nothing, two things I have avoided watching. I did try and watch some clips from her 2015 movie Beyond Paradise and wasn’t that impress with any or it. That being said she seems like she gets the mostly sexualized roles, which for Arianne Martel is fine but for Esmeralda it’s a mixed bag. Esmeralda isn’t supposed to sexual aware of herself but movies ignore that so it’s probably not a big deal. I would give the movie a great director and she’ll be fine.

Francia Raisa picture image

Francia Raisa

But what do you think would Francia Raisa be a good Esmeralda? I don’t think she would be my top point or even top five but there are far worse casting options out there. Gotta say her name is like near spot on for the role.