The Hunchback of Notre Dame The Stage Musical picture image sheet music

The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The Stage Musical

 

Releasing at the end of the month on October 30th is the The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The Stage Musical. It has arrangements of  17 songs from the stage musical adapted from  stage musical and the Disney movie. This collection includes vocal line arrangements with piano accompaniment. Pre-order it here

 

 

Episode 19: The Black Fairy

Jaime Murray as Fiona (The Black Fairy) & Sara Tomko as Tiger Lily Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 19 The Black Fairy picture image

Jaime Murray as Fiona (The Black Fairy) & Sara Tomko as Tiger Lily

In theory this could have been a great episode as it goes into Rumple and the Black Fairy’s origins. Unfortunate the fan theory about The Black Fairy being the Hyde to The Blue Fairy’s Jekyll were not true. The Hyde plot exist solely for Regina.

The Black Fairy was just a loving woman named Fiona who is told by Fairy Tiger Lily that Rumple is the or A Savior, who will die by some great evil born in winter of that year. Question, why doesn’t Tiger Lily get a color name? Like Tink was Green. Anyway I could understand this show a little better if Saviors are always or at least sometimes the product of true love but nope just random lottery with too much light magic and a tragic fate. Still doesn’t explain why Emma’s magic went from being True Love based to Savior base. Ho-hum!

Miraculously, Fiona is peasant woman who can read and reads enough Fairy Lore to turn herself into a fairy. Okay, who is else finds it interesting that she a yellow coded fairy and sports a hairstyle very similar to Belle’s hairstyle in the movie. Clever.

Anyway her dark secret is that by trying to make save Rumple she crafts the Dark curse but when Tiger Lily tries to stop Fiona, Fiona tries to kill her turning her into The Black Fairy and the evil destined to kill Rumple. Tiger Lily gives her the shears to cut off her destiny and magic but The Black Fairy cuts Rumple ties to his Savior status and Blue banishes her. Why is that such a dark secret?

There are many issues with this backstory. The biggest is that Rumple says something to effect that dark magic originated with The Black Fairy but that can’t be true. Dark Magic started with Nimue turning into the first Dark One which had to been at least 100 years prior to Rumpe being born. I mean if we go off the timeline Nimue lives 500 years prior to Snow and David’s time. The Timeline is very shaky though. Another problem is the authorship of Dark Curse is all over the place. It seems like Rumple crafted it back when he wanted to follow Baelfire to the Land without Magic. Or did he just modify it? Seem less impactful if he did.

The backstory really didn’t clear up much. If anything is raises more questions like, why did she steal children? Was it an echo of Rumple’s original tale? Because his children kidnapping made no sense. In fact it made such little sense the show offers two maybe reasons. There was the selling of his 2nd born and luring his mother out. How did he even know The Black Fairy was his mother? His father thought she was dead.

Probably the biggest question it raise is what is The Black Fairy’s motivation for killing Emma now? It makes zero sense. Her first plan was to break out her from her realm to get to Rumple. It just seems like something she fixated on with no reason and makes “ The Final Battle” even more contrived.

One more thing that could be considered interesting, Rumple and Aladdin both cut their fate but it still did creep up to them. Aladdin became a Genie to save Agrabah and Rumple died killing his own father to save Storybrooke. Perhaps Saviors never truly get cut from their fate they just lose their light magic. Tragic fates still pending.

However that is not the only issue with the episode. But before we get more into that, anyone notice that the design of the Dragon Egg is straight out of Game of Thrones? Because it was obvious.

Okay the other issue, Rumple lied to Emma’s face and nothing! Why do people trust this guy so readily? Honestly there didn’t need this “superpower” for Emma. I probably would have forgotten about it, if only Emma hadn’t brought it up. You know someone should watch the series all over again and see how many times Emma catches a lie and how many time she doesn’t. That would be interesting infomation. She probably fair better in season 1 but trails off after season 3.

Another issue and this is a nitpick, Regina telling Zelena to flee to New York with Robin and Henry. Why is it always New York. Anywhere in Maine is technically safer as there no magic but they bring up New York all the time. I mean they know Massachusetts exists and Boston hasn’t been mention since like season 4. But for fun let’s say that Storybrooke is somewhere near Cutler, Maine, it’s on the coast much like Storybrooke and judging from a map doesn’t have much nearby, could be wrong. Cutler Maine to New York City is a 9 hour drive. I think this constant escape to New York City is just annoying me. Seriously is because there are two empty apartments? Does Rumple rent the apartment? Prime Manhattan real estate is left unoccupied? That is the really fantasy of Once Upon a Time.

Another bit of fantasy that is another logic issue is that in the previous episode season 6 Episode 18: Where Bluebirds Fly, Emma says that the wedding should be postponed. Now in season 6 episode 19: The Black Fairy, the wedding is next day! What the heck? And Hook asks Henry to be his best man the night before? What the what? Are Emma and Hook eloping? Who does this? They rushed this because I won’t pretend to be an expert but weddings take planning. Maybe in Storybrooke they can expedite things with magic. But a pesto royal wedding that’s pure fluffy fantasy. Can’t really suspend logic for that one

The only highlight of this episode was Zelena hitting The Black Fairy with a car.

Regina makes with teasing quip about ig Zelena has to flee with Henry and Robin, that it would be Henry raising Zelena but come to think about Zelena might be the best mother. She clearly loves and takes care of Robin all by herself pretty much and she cared for Roland in New York. How much do Snow and David do for Neal? Oh well maybe they just royals and have someone else looking after their baby.

This episode was wasted potential and a mix of poor choices. If they hadn’t done the whole Jekyll and Hyde and EQ plot the Origins of The Black Fairy and Rumple could have been better but still with the origins of the Dark one and Season 1 Rumple, this backstory just clashes with the show’s own mythos.

Episode 20: The Song in Your Heart

Colin O'Donoghue as Hook, Jennifer Morrison as Emma & Raphael Sbarge as Archie Hopper Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 20 The Song in Your Heart picture image

Colin O’Donoghue as Hook, Jennifer Morrison as Emma & Raphael Sbarge as Archie Hopper

What? A musical episode? Okay, going to separate this one out a little bit. Going to review it as an regular episode then as a musical.

The opening maintain the wrong continuity that Emma was in Minneapolis young child. Season 4 called it said she was in Boston. So unless there is a past section that corrects this error I’m going to blame a writer.

Anyway young Emma start singing into a tape record and then some other older orphan tells her that because she’s alone no will want to hear her sing. Not sure that makes sense. Loneliness doesn’t equal lack of singing talent.

Turns out in the past Snow and Charming wished for something to help Emma get her happy ending which is a song but Snow and Charming start bursting into song. The spell affects everyone around mainly Regina, Hook and Zelena who is in OZ. Rumple isn’t affect and while the joke about him not singing was obvious it still was cute. Zelena decided to help Regina break the song as weird way of oneupmanship. Snow and Charming feel defeated but The Blue Fairy, who cast the song, tells them the song wasn’t really broken it still in fetus Emma and she will use it against the final boss, who is not Regina.

As Emma plans for wedding later that night, The Black Fairy tells her the curse will drop at 6pm unless Emma gives up her heart. Emma tries but Henry finds the Song part of the story and Emma uses her songstress powers against The Black fairy. After the wedding the curse falls. Doesn’t the Black Fairy dust turn people into bugs? Turns out everyone thinks it will transport them somewhere, a Dark Curse 4.0.

Before discussing the musical aspect of the episode let’s nitpick it more. I have a problem believing Emma took the tape recorder from her group home, kept it, brought it to Storybrooke, never used it again but she rewound it? I mean what? Then again the camcorder from season 4. It’s the same thing.

Hook also tries to nearly kill Rumple with Dreamshade but it doesn’t even remotely work. Season 2 called however and it said that the dreamshade was seconds away from killing Rumple. Remember when his name was fading off the dagger. It was only Snow traded Cora’s life for Rumple that he didn’t die. And Rumple can die remember season 3 when he died? Also Dark Ones die, that is how Rumple became a Dark One in the first place. Show is it asking too much that you remember events that happened?

Oh and The Black fairy reveals her motivations for fighting Emma. It because Good and Evil were destined to fight. Weak! For a show that keeps trying to redeem its villains and heroes do questionable things, this one is so black and white. It’s super contrived.

I don’t care if this show is a fantasy, what kind of bride doesn’t pick out a wedding gown on her big day but literally has three wedding dresses on stand-by? Hook did the same thing. He had a white suit but then wore an all black tux.

I was also really disappoint by Emma’s wedding gown. First off it was a copy of Grace Kelly’s gown and on its own was pretty but didn’t suit Emma’s character at all. Apparently the reason for that was Jennifer Morrison liking Kelly’s dress. Costumers shouldn’t curtail to actors as much. It’s not about the actor it’s about character. The red gown she wore to that Ball in the past end season three suited her better. But then again there was an odd dress code at the wedding. Why were all the men in tuxes but the ladies were not in formal attire. The men were dressed for a formal nighttime wedding but the ladies’ dresses were suited more for an afternoon garden wedding. Why did the show miss a chance to dress up the ladies? Also astroturf as a aisle runner on a roof? Show, are you smoking-crack-crazy?

That brings up to the musical part of the episode. The story really just facilitates the musical segments. They are integrated well and the past doesn’t really retcon other events so that is plus.

Let’s not mince words, the actors are not professional singers, they all got tech help though they don’t sound robotic or super obvious for the most part.

The first song is called “Powerful Magic” and it sung by David and Snow. Snow wishes for a way to give Emma a happy ending and poof they sing all the time. It’s a nice upbeat song. Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas’ voice are suited to this song. Overall it was enjoyable

Regina is next. Turns out she doesn’t like this spell. Her song is called “Love Doesn’t Stand a Chance.” Aside from Lana Parrilla chewing the scene this not a good song. It’s kinda all over the place. She is clearly having fun with so I can see people enjoying for that reason and her ruining other people’s song is fun. The song doesn’t seem suited to Lana Parrilla’s voice even though it was written for her. You can just hear her struggling with it even though the auto-tuning

Hook is the next one to get a song. It’s called “Revenge is Gonna be Mine,” you can guess what that is about. Snow and David hire him to take them to Regina. Hook refuses until Snow and David offer Rumple as the payment. So far this is the best one. Colin O’Donoghue has really good voice and it’s a fun jointy song. Who doesn’t like singing dancing pirates in a bar?

For some reason the spell affects OZ so Zelena gets a song. It’s called “Wicked Always Wins.” It’s not the strongest song and the visuals are weak by Rebecca Mader has a nice tone to her voice.

The next song is “Charmings vs Evil Queen” this just a remix of “Powerful Magic” and “Love Doesn’t Stand a Chance.” It’s a battle in song.

The next one is the weaponized song. “Emma’s Theme” is the song that Emma uses to beat The Black Fairy or really just unfreeze her family as they got frozen in time. Jennifer Morrison doesn’t have the strongest of voices. It much softer than you would accept. It could be a case that the song was not all that suited to her voice.

The last song of the episode is “A Happy Beginning.” This is an ensemble piece where all the major characters get a solo. Jennifer Morrison isn’t much of a singer. Oddly Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas were weaker in this song but Lana Parrilla’s voice sounded much better. This song is better with the ensemble singing than with the solo. The “Nah Nah Nah’ part was unnecessary. The song went on a bit but was okay.

So visuals for the song were a little weird. They did make good use of the sets and angles. They also made the dancers make sense as they felt natural in the scene except for Zelena’s song where she just terrorize the munchkins. There was a habit of playing to the camera like an audience which was off-putting. You don’t have to do that with the medium. Make it more of a music video and less stagey.

When I heard there was musical episode I thought it was going to be awful but it was pretty good. The episode’s plot is just an excuse to make it a musical. The plot didn’t however ruin any of the previous plot elements and did advance the story. Was it perfect? No. Was it enjoyable? Yes. I can even forgive the weird style of the wedding and even the Dreamshade/immortal thing. Also did Belle not get an invite?

 

Quaismodo Bells of Notre dame reprise Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Quaismodo Bells of Notre dame reprise Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

I get a Google-Alert for Hunchback of Notre Dame. However it sucks. Mostly it just tells me about another regional production of Hunchback, which is great or something on Criaglist.  To be honest I mostly ignore the alerts. Last Saturday though I got it in my head to just look on Google News for Hunchback when I saw this;

http://www.denofgeek.com/us/movies/the-hunchback-of-notre-dame/266641/the-hunchback-of-notre-dame-live-action-remake-considered-by-disney

OR a similar news outlet making this report.  Also I think my Google Alert alerted me to this on Monday.

So about the news. It’s  not yet happening so to speak but Alan Meken said

“I can’t say anything yet,” Menken said, “but I think Hunchback would make an amazing live action musical.”

Quasimodo during Out There Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Quasimodo during Out There Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

So it MIGHT happen. After watching the Beauty and the Beast  remake, I think Hunchback is the way for Disney. It really did seemed with the new Beauty and beast movie they were trying to captizle on a movie that studios already thought was near flawless which is why they only changed minor things and did a fairly straight shot for shot remake. What was the point of remaking it other than making money? They could have just re-released the 1991 movie to theater if there weren’t going to adapt the story for the medium more. Say what you want about the 2015 Cinderella movie, at least it was different from the cartoon. Which bring us back to Hunchback.

Disney never liked Hunchback that much. It didn’t make much money ergo it wasn’t successful for Disney. Also the darker tone was turn off for a lot of people. A live-action version could fix a lot of issues and people might be more forgiving of a dark tone. It would be interesting to see what is done with the story. Do they make it more of blend of the musical and the cartoon. Or do they follow the book more? Do we get a more innocent Esmeralda and angry Quasimodo? Do we get a priest/alchemist Frollo?  Do we get a Gringoire?

If this movie does get made it brings the total number of Hunchback movie adaptions in production up. Very technically speaking there are three in the works. There is the Max Ryan version (could be in filming hell), there was the version from Esmeralda’s perspective (haven’t heard any new on that one in a long time) and the Universal Monster version (hope The Mummy didn’t kill this being made.) Pretty sure the jazzy Brolin version is dead.

Anyway well we’ll just have to wait and see but I’m up for a new Hunchback version good to bad.

 

 

While a good portion of 2016 has sucked, Hunchback of Notre Dame related news has been ok throughout the year especially in the musical area

Quasimodo as the King of Fools Topsy Turvy Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Quasimodo as the King of Fools Topsy Turvy Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

First thing that is fairy big in 2016 is that the Disney movie turned 20 years old.

Hunchback of Notre Dame Cast Recording Album picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame Cast Recording Album

Then there were a lot with the American version of the  Disney movie. The cast album for the Papermill’s version came out and while the show didn’t go to Broadway it did go to regional theaters. So far it has been performed at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine, which I can say was great. Also Utah’s Tuacahn Amphitheater,  California Music Circle of Sacramento had a deaf actor playing Quasimodo.

The show was also  performed on the international level at Frederica Theatre in Denmark. There should be more international performance in 2017 like at Budapest Operaetta. Next year there should be casts.

There was all an amateur cast version done in Nevada over Thanksgiving. Read more Here.

But it’s wasn’t all about the Disney musical, The Joseph Rowntree Theatre in York put on a production that reference the 2016 political climate like character named Governor LeTrump. Read about it here.

Hiba Tawaji as Esmeralda & Jay as Clopin 2016/2017 Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Hiba Tawaji as Esmeralda & Jay as Clopin

Then of course there is the other big Hunchback musical adaptation, Notre Dame de Paris. It started the year with the a French cast in Korea and a return of some of teh original Italian cast for another run of the Italian version. The biggest news for Notre Dame de Paris was the show’s return to Paris with a new cast though with some veteran of the show like Daniel Lavoie reprising his role as Frollo. The show announced it was going to have a production tour around Quebec.   

Sadly there have been no movie related news which is weird since that Max Ryan movie was supposed to start filming this past year and nothing. The only thing is that the role of “The Giant” is no longer listed on the IMDB page but there is still Advisor, thief, cripple, vagrant and Spike. I have no idea what any that mean but oh well we’ll just have to see with that one.

There of course there are the Hunchback news story that are referential. The big one was Rebecca Dann who suffers from Kyphosocollosis, which causes a huge curve in the spine,  won a photography contest and met Stephen Hawkings. Her self-portrait was called “I’m Fine” and it showcased her.  Read More Here

Hopefully 2017 will have more Hunchback news, hopefully movie related news but musical news is just as good.

Before we end the year let’s have a fun poll

 

Which of the Hypothetical casting ideas from 2016 was your favorite? Or which one of these casting would you most what to see actually happen? Just leave a comment.

Rupert Grint for Quasimodo 

Anna Kendrick for Esmeralda

Michael McElHatton for Frollo 

Francia Raisa for Esmeralda 

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau for Phoebus

Freddie Highmore for Gringoire

Sarah Bolger for Fleur de Lys

Gemma Arterton for Esmeralda

Terrance Zdunich for Gringoire

Gigi Radics for Esmeralda

Hmm, only one Frollo this year, we’ll have to at least double that in 2017.

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.

 

 

 

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.