Hunchback of Notre Dame at Ogunquit Playhouse Maine picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame at Ogunquit Playhouse

If you follow TheHunchblog on Facebook then you might know that last week on July 28th I went to see Ogunquit Playhouse’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I do feel very lucky that I got to see it although I do live relatively close to Ogunquit Maine.

Ad of the Ogunquit's production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Ad of the Ogunquit’s production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

First off, in center area of Ogunquit, which is a nice beach town, promotions for the play were everywhere, which is common. Above is the one I took a picture of as it was the closest to the car near where I ate lunch but there were tons, I wish I could have taken more picture. Also I went to a matinee show so there were a lot of older people but there were children sitting behind me. The show was nearly sold out but there were a empty sits most noticeably next to me.

Also they had two signature cocktails, The Quasimodo and the Esmeralda. I tried both and as I’m a super light-weight when it comes to drinking I felt those drinks later, no worries though I wasn’t the driver. Alway I did end preferring the Quasimodo to the Esmeralda. Oddly the Quasimodo was green and I don’t really recall what was in aside from pineapple juice and the Esmeralda was blue with a peach vodka and lemonade, it had a spicier taste. Also they give you the glasses a souvenir so that is cool.

One more thing. as I was leaving I did see a few of the actors mostly the extra but I did see the guy who played Clopin, Paolo Montalban, leaving and walking off down the street. I didn’t say anything because  I’m criminally shy and I don’t really like to bother people.   So the show itself?

My Ticket and program, Oguinquit Playhouse Hunchback Notre Dame picture image

My Ticket and program,

 

So what did I think? Al lot of the nitpicks I had about the show were the same ones I had to Papermills/La Jolla version as this version isn’t much different. That being said, I am a touch more forgiving as musical plays are meant to be seen live and not  in a tiny frame size on a computer.  So while I can’t compare the versions in terms of plot and decision related to the plot I can discuss the performer and the production designs.

I will say this, the costumes in the Papermills/La Jolla were a bit better. Esmeraldas’ costume in those version read more like her Disney costumes. That is not to say the Ogunquit costume were bad, they were fine. Esmeralda wore mainly pink, her corset was pink and her skirt looked green but in picture is read more as blue. Her dance costume was more Indian in style. It was  pink choli top with a green skirt with a high slit and she wore legging.  You can click here for press pictures. Also I didn’t love the fact that Frollo was in white the whole time but that is a nitpick. Though black is Frollo’s color in the book and most version follow suit. I did like Clopin’s costume more in this version though especially his Feast of Fools robe.

Also it bear mentioning that Quasimodo in this version doesn’t not put any make-up on his face to convey the deformity and instead the actor did the work. Not sure how I feel about this since I have been hard in the Papermill and the La Jolla versions on this aspect. But I will say in the moment I didn’t mind it plus the stage sits kinda of level with the sits so I probably couldn’t have seen it otherwise. It’s a mixed feeling though.

 

Broadwayworld Ogunquit Playhouse Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Broadwayworld Ogunquit Playhouse Hunchback of Notre Dame

I did like the stage set up more in the version. While the stage is small it really didn’t feel as cluttered as the   Papermills/La Jolla versions.      I think it’s because they used the sides more and the choir was above most of the action. They also had a smaller congregation group and they seems to have set roles as part of the architecture. I’m not sure if that was the same in the Papermills/La Jolla versions but that might be a perk of seeing it live instead of in a tiny Aspect ratio.  They also used a moving platform that was painted like the floor of Notre Dame but in less contrasting  colors. While it wasn’t as accurate to the eddfice it was easier on the eyes.  The simplifying of  the sets made it  better for the space and made it easier for the eye to rest.

Not all the stagecraft was better, I did prefer Aphrodisius coming out as a stained glass window in Papermills/La Jolla version but again nitpick. Also the molten lead was handled better in those version as well but this version got rid of the confusion run through the Gallery of kings so it’s a trade-off.

Ogunquit Playhouse Hucnhabck of Notre Dame picture image

Ogunquit Playhouse Hucnhabck of Notre Dame

 

The acting and the performances were good across the board. I can’t complain there. I will say that while the Frollo seemed younger than is typical, he did get more angry in Hellfire than Patrick Page did.  All in all, I’m very happy I got to see the show and if it’s playing in a theater near  you do  go see it.

 

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.

 

And remember you can still vote in the poll, so tell your friends.

What should be the next version?

  • Quasimodo d'el Paris (53%, 9 Votes)
  • The Dingo Version (35%, 6 Votes)
  • Other (PLEASE say what it is in the comments) (12%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 17

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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.

And again if haven’t voted in the poll for the next version you still can.

What should be the next version?

  • Quasimodo d'el Paris (53%, 9 Votes)
  • The Dingo Version (35%, 6 Votes)
  • Other (PLEASE say what it is in the comments) (12%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 17

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

 

 

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

What should be the next version?

  • Quasimodo d'el Paris (53%, 9 Votes)
  • The Dingo Version (35%, 6 Votes)
  • Other (PLEASE say what it is in the comments) (12%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 17

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Ciara Renée as Esmeralda and Andrew Samonsky as Phoebus performing Someday, La Jolla cast of The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Ciara Renée as Esmeralda and Andrew Samonsky as Phoebus performing Someday, La Jolla cast of The Hunchback of Notre Dame

When I planned these posts, i.e. weakest/strongest posts I thought I would be more on the side of the stronger but when I was thinking about the strongest aspects I came up with more of the weakness than strengths. I feel a bit sad that I’m more mixed with siding more on the side of not being as in love with it as some other people. But oh well. I’m going to TRY to be as positive as I can.

So what did the musical do well? Well the music and the score were amazing. I mean you can’t go wrong with Alan Menken and a requiem mass inspired music. It also does well when it’s doing it own thing. Like Thai Mol Piyas

I will say that Esmeralda and Phoebus were well done. The irony here is that Esmeralda is left pretty much untouched from her Disney persona and the book persona didn’t really enter into her characterization. Phoebus however is a great combo between the two which gives him an arc. He starts out closer to the book and then turns more of Disney character. I think this what they tried to with Frollo and it just didn’t work.

The performers also do a great job, as in they sing well. I will say Arden does a good job with Quasimodo in parts. His weird attempt at sounding deaf boarders on sounding mentally disable. I get that he is deaf and lacks self-codience but really?

And also there were no gargoyles, that was a plus. Still not sold on the chorus as it seem kinda of high school or some day camp but still no gargoyles.

 

 

Honestly I don’t know what to call this show as a whole.

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

Patrick Page as Frollo singing Hellfire, Papermills

 

This post is mainly focusing on the story and characters from mostly the Cast Album Point-of-View. I will not get into any aspect from the technicals of the show itself.  And instead of me being all nit-picky, I’m going to try to keep this as general as I can, so no mention of Phoebus’ last name or the wars. The stabbing thing is a different point.

I do think of the biggest weakness is actually the idea of the show which was merging the Disney movie and the book. The real trouble is they were working with three different mediums of story telling; a Book, A Movie and a Broadway style musical. It’s no easy task, things that work in one do not work in the other two.  Another trouble is they pretty much had to keep the Disney movie fairly intact within the show which ruined other aspects of the show, namely Frollo as a whole. It just seems to a case of them adding book stuff to the movie story and didn’t really think about what they were doing so along as it didn’t mess with the movie stuff.

Case in point, Frollo. Frollo in this version is  a very weird mash-up of Book Frollo and Disney Frollo and I don’t think it was super effective in this version of either story. You can make the argument that this Frollo is his own thing but the point of this musical is combine the Disney movie and the book in a workable combo. A big thing wrong is that Frollo really keeps his composure throughout the musical even Hellfire is super controlled. I really didn’t see or hear the lust for Esmeralda taking control of him. Nor did he get jealous towards Phoebus or even Quasimodo for Esmeralda being nice to him. I didn’t see either book Frollo or movie Frollo in this one.

 

It really comes down to some of the decisions  the show takes with the two sources that leads to the some of the weakness of the show as a whole. The first is the opening with Frollo and Quasimodo’s backstory. The show brought in Jehan, Frollo’s little brother from the book. If you have read the book you would know Frollo was much older than his brother and didn’t know about him till their parents died. So when Frollo saw Quasimodo abandoned in Notre Dame he is moved by empathy thinking  about how Jehan  could have been in Quasimodo’s position.  In this musical Quaismodo is Jehan’s son making Frollo  Quasimodo’s uncle. This family connection waters down the relationship between the two and is actually never mention in the musical as a core plot point. It doesn’t add anything. Frollo had a brother, so what? Is that really a better back story than Disney movie or the book? It just seemed like they wanted to work in Jehan somehow.

The another scene a combo of few scenes. So in the book Esmeralda and Phoebus have a meeting at house which ends with Frollo stabbing Phoebus and Esmeralda getting blamed for the crime. The musical has this scene sort of but doesn’t do much with it aside from an awesome song. In the show Frollo walks the city looking for Esmeralda and one night he sees her in a bar where she kissed Phoebus. That’s it. Sure, it gives some insight to Phoebus and Frollo’s desperation but not enough. It just seems like they wanted that scene but could only work in so far and then added the whole stabbing thing later. As Phoebus is getting his character arc he says no to burning a building and Frollo sentences him to die.   Esmeralda then appears and helps Phoebus,  then Frollo stabs Phoesbus AND then blames Esmeralda and that is one of her crimes. Am I crazy or that dumb? Am I going insane? The whole stabbing which a driving force in the book in shoehorned in this show in a near insulting manner.  Unless she stabbed another officer? There was a fight scene but still it’s an after thought.

But here is the thing instead of doing the Inn/Tarvern scene properly which would have meant probably switching Hellfire and Thai Mol Piyas it also meant forgoing the whole burning/search for Esmeralda as well as changing Phoebus’s character arc  a bit ergo they went for the Disney story and just threw it where they felt like. And that is weakness of the show as whole and an overdose Disney with pitch of the book.

It’s like they were baking a cake and were told that chile and chocolate go well together, so instead of adding ground cayenne pepper they just added some crushed up Jalapeño to a cake box cake.

 

 

 

 

LAST THREE SONGS!

Michael Arden as Quasimodo & Ciara Renée as Esmeralda during the finale, La Jolla Hunchack of Notre Dame picture image

Michael Arden as Quasimodo & Ciara Renée as Esmeralda during the finale, La Jolla Hunchack of Notre Dame

While the City Sleeps – A bridge song. Maybe it a slight bitterness in my mood, I’m not perfect in some of criticisms but I really do not care for the choir singing near operatics with the nasal singing of the chorus or rather the congregation. That nasal tone is very musical and Broadway but it two styles that do not mesh well together.

As it is, it’s a bridge song getting the musical from Someday to Made of Stone. But styles of singing just didn’t work, the congregation is capable of singing not as nasally so I’m not sure why they did here.

Made of Stone – I don’t want to seem jaded, though to be fair I am but this version of Made of Stone is very much the same as the German version. Is that bad? No. I just can rave about this song as much. That being said it’s well done. Michael Arden gives great performance. He pulls off a good combination of anger and pathos that the song requires. Though in the stage show at least for the La Jolla performance, I wish he was just a little bit anger but it could have just been that show, that night.

I do think it’s weird that Quasimodo asks what his own mind know of him. Quasimodo is crazy. Also I don’t know if I get why the congregation take off their cowl things? I think something more akin to pulling hoods over their faces would have been better, like they lose the spark and individuality Quasimodo’s mind gave them. But what do I know about stage craft.

Though I still maintain I liked Made of Stone before Someday better. There was just more power there but they clearly wanted the the epic Latin music that the Disney movie had hence the switch.

Finale – OK, before I can even start with the song, I need to discuss this insanity of logic in the script. One of Esmeralda’s crime was stabbing Phoebus. No musical, I told you can not do that. I might have forgiven you if you let it alone but you bring it back? I know the book did it, it made sense (somewhat) in the book but you can’t do it here. Frollo sentenced Phoebus to die in public, then he stabs him, still in public though albeit in some confusion, then blames Esmeralda and THAT is one her crimes she is to die for? THE FUCK? I know you wanted to be like book more but you need to think about logically. There was enough to convict her, witchcraft was enough. Just so much NO here. And that was just one line.

Aside from that one line which seems like it shouldn’t matter but does, how is the Finale? This one is a bit of a roller coaster. There are parts I really like and other parts that I find meh to other parts that are just left me wondering if musical didn’t really getting the original  source material i.e the book.

Before I say what parts of the song that were good and which ones missed the mark, let’s just discuss the song sturture. It’s a frankenstein song as in it’s made up of other songs from the show. Like Made of Stone, Someday, On Top of the World, Esmeralda, Sanctuary, Out There and Bells of Notre Dame. This is the same case of the German version so it’s not a negative. they all work together.

So what parts did I like? I liked the song after Frollo died, in particular the congregation singing about the world to Frollo’s part of Out There. That part was lovely and so bittersweet, made me tear up a little bit. Also the lovely female Latin solo was quite nice. The ending is the best part of this song hands down.

The meh parts were the parts lifted from the Disney movie which is little sad since it’s the Sanctuary/ fight scene. It just didn’t translate that well to stage show. I can see why Notre Dame de Paris didn’t bother. Speaking of Notre Dame de Paris, Frollo has the same powers to suspend Sanctuary or rather negate, still same difference. I will say that the molten lead was cool in the stage show.

The part that leaves me questioning if the people in charge get the book was Frollo’s death. Though I will say I did like that response to Frollo saying “You don’t want to hurt me” and the congregation saying “Yes” in a creepy whipser, that I liked. Ok, so this part hurts my brain trying to figure it out. On the one hand Quaismodo throws Frollo off the building and he utters “There lies all that have ever loved.” But unlike the book where Quasimodo throws Frollo in a fit of rage for laughing at Esmeralda’s death here in this version he seems more intent on killing him, saying the wicked should not go unpunished. Quaismodo was quite murderous here. It just didn’t sit well with me. I get the whole scene was a call back to start of show when Frollo was singing the wicked shall not go unpunished but still.  Maybe if Frollo had been more crazy at this point and laughed. This version he so cool and calm that it just weird. Where is this guy’s crazy lust?  It’s not Frollo.

But hey at least like in the book everyone but Phoebus dies even if it’s super unclear that Quasimodo takes Esmeralda and lies down to die. If you don’t really think about things too much and just let this Finale wash over you, it’s great and very powerful at the end. Though I would note the riddle of what makes and Monster and what makes a man is technically the moral albeit vague. The ending for me was the best part of the finale.

Still more to say on the cast album.

Ciara Renée as Esmeralda and Andrew Samonsky as Phoebus performing Someday, La Jolla cast of The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Ciara Renée as Esmeralda and Andrew Samonsky as Phoebus performing Someday, La Jolla Cast of The Hunchback of Notre Dame

In a Place of Miracles – Technically this song is not new to this incarnation of the musical. It was originally written for the Disney movie along side As Long as there is a Moon which more or less did the whole wedding thing of Esmeralda and Gringoire but with Phoebus. Both Songs were scrapped for pacing and time. In the German version there was a song called Out of Love that was reprised here and was sung earlier by Phoebus with the Gargoyles to convince Quasimodo to help Esmeralda.

Before I get the song itself I want to point the choice to use this song instead of As Long of there is a a Moon. Some of the purpose of this musical was to reconcile the Disney movie with the book. In some ways the two kind of muddle each other a bit. If they had picked As Long of there is a Moon they would have gotten a book scene in there but it would have made no sense as the Gypsies where trying to leave their homes quickly, which is one reason it was scrapped from the movie. I respect that they went with the logical choice instead of trying to get a book scene in the show.

That being said this version of the song is different than the deleted song from the Disney movie. Most of the lyrics are there in parts as well as the melody but it does borrow somethings from Out of Love reprised where Quasimodo sings a reprised of Heaven’s Light but wait because it also does it own thing too. Admist the confessions of love and heartbreak, the Gypsies and Clopin sing about leaving their homes and hope for a better and kinder place.

The structure of this song is a little weird. The second verse is basically Esmeralda, Phoebus and Quasimodo singing over each other. This makes it somewhat dissociate but the song is doing a lot for three minutes. We have a love song, sad song and a bittersweet moving song, so not a bad thing but it’s a style that I’m not that crazy about though they do mesh together.

I don’t really love the melody either, it’s pretty enough but I’m not crazy for the notes on “Place” but that is a preference. I do prefer the Out of Love Reprise but this song is fine.

Also who else heard the the melody of the Tavern Song at the end?

Justice in Paris – There is much to this song, it under a minute to set up Esmeralda’s burring. It’s to the melody of The Bells of Notre Dame so I like the melody.  So there is no trial it seems this song is just a bridge song to get the audience from the “love” song to the burning of Esmeralda.

SomedaySomeday was originally written for the Esmeralda Prayer segment in the Disney movie. They had written God Help the Outcasts first but felt they wanted something more intimate for the scene but changed their minds and placed Someday as a credit song. It was put into the German version which Esmeralda and Phoebus song right after Frollo’s proposition and it continues till Esmeralda reaches the pyre. This means it is not sung directly after Made of Stone in this version. This annoys me a little bit since it’s a nice converse to Made of Stone but I will hold off judgement till I get that song.

As it stands, this song is gorgeous. It’s left unchanged from it’s purpose of being a  bittersweet hope for the world, which sadly is still not true. Comparing it to the German version which is called Einmal, there is a  build-up to a big swell at the end as Esmeralda is about to be burned. In this version it keeps its intimacy  as it’s just Esmeralda and Phoebus. Apples and Oranges both are great despite the different tones.

Also while on the subject Einmal has very different lyrics than Someday. Einmal speaks of people learning to respect each other after thousands of battle and bloodshed while Someday is softer in the lyrics. Still I have no issues with the song it’s beautiful and  Ciara Renée  and Andrew Samonsky sing it very well.