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.

 

 

Quasimodo during Out There Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Quasimodo during Out There Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

I have been wanting to this for a while. I was going to do Hellfire but for some reason Google Translate was being weird so I went with Out There. So this is Out There through Google Translation.

It went from the original English to Hindi then to Swedish then to Japanese then to Spanish then to Korean and then back to English and here is what we got;

“These safety behind this stone windows and railings”
“People looking down at me,”
“I like my life hiding here alone, I am in favor of them”
“They show the hunger is for profit of history”
“All my life, I remember your face”
“They know they can not learn from”
“All my life, seems to go in one day”
“Over them”
“However, some of its”

“There”
“Living in Japan”
“Let me see one days”
“I ask all”
“Always keep”

“There”
“I do not know where they live”
“I want to”
“I will venture”
“Only meet one days”

“Mills and craftsmen external wife”
“I can see through the ceiling and gable”
“Day ev’ry, they scream to hear that embarking on his life
“It has to be that they inadvertently gift”
“If I had their skin”
“Ev’ry want the goods immediately”

“There”
“Senna walks”
“Enjoy breakfast out”

“Humdrum”
“Freedom to move”
“Just days after”
“I swear I will enjoy drill”
“And part of me”
“Does anger”
“What not despair”
“Previous Bent”
“I do not care”
“I wrote”
“One day”
“There”

One Song this week!

Hunchback of Notre Dame Musical performing Esmeralda picture image

Ensemble performing Esmeralda

Esmeralda –  Before I start, can I just say that watching the La Jolla performance of this song was bat-shit stupid.  It was dumb to  have Frollo stab Phoebus, then blames Esmeralda for it and yet he just condemned Phoebus to die and Esmeralda is already wanted. It like what the hell? What is the point of Frollo stabbing Phoebus? Musical, I respect what you’re doing but you can’t just insert the stabbing scene from the book  into your show like that. You just seem like you want to add things even though they don’t make sense with the narrative you’re telling. And while I’m mentioning the La Jolla recording, there are a lot of differences from the La Jolla version of this song vs the cast album. Do you have any idea how tasking these reviews are? I have to deal with the Disney Movie Version, the book, the German version, and two versions of the English musical version.

As you may know, Esmeralda is the Act 1 closer from the German version. This is where Frollo is on a man-hunt for Esmeralda and is burning Paris because he is super  obsessed. It’s also where Phoebus says No to Frollo for not burning  a Family in a Mill, though in this musical version it’s a brothel that harbors Gypsies. I think the change is so they could make some sexual connotations about Phoebus visiting and that Frollo shouldn’t be there.

Esmeralda was my favorite song from the German version as it’s both very dramatic and speaks to the basic theme of the story, the differences of the hearts of three men. I will say that it’s not my favorite song in this version as the I slightly prefer the Tavern song but it’s on point with the German. I do however have some issues with it though.

For starters, I hate the lyric “He held the Torch that Crackled like the Gypsy’s Voice.”   Even if Esmeralda in these Disnye-ish versions has a smokey quality, crackled is a terrible word choice. I understand Phoebus is supposed to be reminded of her in this instant and in the German version he hears her singing in his head but really Menken? Crackled?  A Crackling voice is indicative of an old person or someone with a cold.

And there is another issue I have. When Phoebus hears Esmeralda sing in his head in the German version, she sings a few lines from a song she sang to him in Notre Dame. This is the case in La Jolla performance though it’s a chorus and not Esmeralda herself. He then throws the Torch and say I’m just a fool though the line in German is I think I rather be Good than right.  In the cast album it’s FREAKING God Help the Outcasts, which yes is pretty BUT Phoebus never heard that song! It’s wouldn’t be important to him as the other song was because Esmeralda sung it directly to Phoebus. They just replaced  because the audience knew it better. That choice annoys. It also annoys that they just didn’t have Esmeralda sing it because she even reveals herself to Frollo and crew while in the German version she stays out of sight like in the Disney movie. This choices are really ill-conceived.

Weird choices asides, this still a great song that is much like German version in term of its powerful grand scale and is a great song to end Act I.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esmeralda and Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda and Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

The internet is full of crackpot theories. My favorite ones deal with either Game of Thrones and Star Wars. But then I read this crackpot theory, Could Anna and Elsa be Quasimodo’s Ancestors, which I don’t have to say is all kinds of wrong. But it got me thinking about my own crackpot theories and I thought of one that isn’t probably that super original or out there but it seems like it could be totally true, Are Quasimodo and Esmeralda related???

Quasimodo's Mother Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Quasimodo’s Mother Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

This theory only takes in to account the Disney version, since book wise it’s not true.  The first piece of evidence is the woman known as Quasimodo’s mother. She was a Gypsy woman who died protecting Quasimodo from Frollo.  I will say that it is unknown if she is actually Quasimodo’s biological mother or not given the difference of skin tone but MAYBE Quasimodo’s skin tone is part of his deformity. It’s possible so let’s just say, YES she is 100% his mother and Quasimodo’s parents are both Gypsies.

Esmeralda and Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Esmeralda and Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre dame

Now I bet you’re saying, just because Quasimodo is a Gypsy and so is Esmeralda, it doesn’t make them relatives and YES, you are correct, that is not enough but I have other evidence, and it’s more compelling, eye color.

There are only FOUR characters in The Hunchback of Notre Dame that actually have eye colors. Those “characters” are Quasimodo, Esmeralda, that little girl who hugs Quasimodo at the end and if you look REALLY closely Quasimodo’s mother. Everyone else has black eyes including Phoebus and Frollo.  I’m going at one a limb and say that the little girl’s eye color reflects more of her innocent and is the expectation that proves the rule.

Eye color is not as simple as Mendel thought but green eyes are a recessive trait meaning both parents need to carry the gene. Now it looks like Quasimodo’s Mother has a dark blue color and it is possible for a blue-eyed parent to have green-eyed baby. The green eyes link Quasimodo and Esmeralda. It could be as simple as links them both a outcasts but then why both adding that touch color to Quasimodo’s Mother?  Their same color eyes links them in a world full of black eyes.

Esmeralda and Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda reading Quasimodo’s palm Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

So how are they related? I would say they are not siblings as Esmeralda was not with Quasimodo’s parents when they tried to entered Paris. It’s possible but very unlikely. I would say they are more likely cousins. And if they are cousins it makes it better that they are a couple. Plus Esmeralda treats Quasimodo with a type of older sister affection and Quasimodo treats Esmeralda school-boy crush.  They are better as friends.

 

What do you think? Do you think Quasimodo and Esmeralda could be related? And do have or know of any good, crazy or bad Hunchback theories?

 

 

 

Now that 2016 Award Season is over, let’s look at some gowns that are reminiscent of Esmeralda costumes, or something that an Esmeralda could wear. I’m 100% positive these gowns are in no way inspired by Esmeralda, it’s all coincidental.

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon wearing Oscar de la Renta at 2016 Oscars Image Source: Getty / Steve Granitz picture

Reese Witherspoon wearing Oscar de la Renta at 2016 Oscars

This gown is an Oscar de la Renta wore by Reese Witherspoon at the 2016 Oscars. This gown has a lot of commonalities to Disney Esmeralda’s costume. First off, the color, it’s a lovely rich shade of purple. The silhouette is very similar to Esmeralda though longer.

The exposed corset details with the vertical boning is similar Esmeralda’s corset  especially with it being on the waist right below the bust.  The volume at the bust also invokes Esmeralda’s peasant blouse.

It being strapless also helps, as Disney Esmeralda had exposed shoulders.

Saoirse Ronon

Saoirse Ronon wearing a custom Calvin Klein at 2016 Oscars Image Source: Getty / Jason Merritt picture

Saoirse Ronon wearing a custom Calvin Klein at 2016 Oscars

This gown is a custom Calvin Klein that Saoirse Ronon wore at the 2016 Oscars. It is very reminiscent of Esmeralda costume in Notre Dame de Paris, in its color, deep v-neck and the abstract spiral pattern. This pattern which is created with sequins would be perfect for Esmeralda’s Notre Dame de Paris costume more than some those floral patterns they get for the costume.

Zendaya

Zendaya wearing Marchesa at 2016 Golden Globes Image Source: Getty / VALERIE MACON picture

Zendaya wearing Marchesa at 2016 Golden Globes

This gown was designed by  Marchesa and Zendaya wore it at the 2016 Golden Globes. I have made it clear I don’t care for Esmeralda wearing red but it is a go to color for her character so I can’t fight it. There is something about this gown that screams Esmeralda. It could be the tiers which is a very dancer type of silhouette which work for Esmeralda.

Zendaya in this gown looks very similar the the design of Esmeralda on the Notre Dame de Paris poster.  She might be a good candidate for Esmeralda actually if they ever did Notre Dame de Paris as movie or in States again or a general musical.

Jada Pinkett Smith 

Jada Pinkett Smith wearing Versace at 2016 Golden Globes VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images picture

Jada Pinkett Smith wearing Versace at 2016 Golden Globes

This gown was design by Versace and Jade Pinkett Smith wore it at the 2016 Golden Globes. This gown seems to be to like a merger of Esmeralda’s two Notre Dame de Paris costumes.  You have the color and slit of her first act costume with the cowl neckline and sleeve detail of her prisoner costume.

Rachel McAdams  & Sophie Tuner

Rachel Mcadams wearing an August Getty Atelier dress at 2016 Oscars Image Source: Getty / Jason Merritt picture

Rachel Mcadams wearing an August Getty Atelier dress at 2016 Oscars

Sophie Turner wearing Wearing custom Galvan at 2016 Oscars Image Source: Getty / Todd Williamson picture

Sophie Turner wearing Wearing custom Galvan at 2016 Oscars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two gowns aren’t ones I would compare to Esmeralda’s Notre Dame de Paris costume, though the colors are on par her fist act costume but I wanted to note the slits on these two gowns, it how the slit on the NDdP costume should work. Not the ugly curved thing they do.

 

Tori Kelly

Tori Kelly wearing Gauri and Nanika at 2016 Grammy Awards picture image

Tori Kelly wearing Gauri and Nanika at 2016 Grammy Awards

Also the Gauri and Nanika gown that Tori Kelly wore at the 2016 Grammy Awards was the perfect Esmeralda color. The gown itself is lovely though it is not really  that reminiscent of Esmeralda.

 

 

Happy Feast of Fools Day!

Today we have a Let’s Play video from Rin. There are lots games. Enjoy

Rin has lots of Hunchback videos so be sure to subscribe, I did!