LAST THREE SONGS!
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.