With the new Asian Tour cast singing Will Jenning’s english lyrics, we must ask are Jennings’ Lyrics harmful. I would yes and no. I think performing an English version in Asian countries makes level of sense. Let’s face it, English is a basic skill in many countries, and odds that people in China, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore can speak English is pretty high and this way they can appreciate the show a bit better and since these people are not native speaker they are not as bothered by the awful lyrics.
Tina Arena played Esmeralda in the London Cast
And now the flip-side, Yes, Will Jenning is most certainly harmful to Notre Dame de Paris. First off here’s a little trivia, the London version wasn’t doing well so they brought in Dannii Minogue in a hope of increase sales. The show didn’t last much longer and as 2001 it ended in London and has never played again. The Las Vegas cast didn’t play for very long either and have never revived. Now personally I think Las vegas was a poor choice for this show. Las Vegas is a bright colorful place and Notre Dame de Paris is a pretty minimal on sets and props, I think it might do doing better in New York City. But the show English Lyrics are laughable and I am sure that contributed to show lack of success in its English version.
Dannii Minogue also played Esmeralda in the London cast
The problem is you can tell Jenning rushed the translation, he tried too hard to fit the measure and not the mood. As result we get lyrics like “Out of no where came the Age of Cathedral” (Didn’t Notre Dame de Paris take over 100yrs to build?) “I was born on a road that bends”(So, not Texas? vauge statement Esmeralda) “So look no more for love, love is you.”(this line just sound stupid when sung) “I feel love awaken me, deep down in me, too strong for me.”(oh that just laziness) “Oh Fleur-de-lys I am a man who knows no law” (I kinda like Belle in english, it’s not bad but this line is stupid, Phoebus is Law in the show or maybe he’s just bad at his chosen profession) “Free today, Flown away. Souls at bay find a way” (Free Today sounds like a local cable advert for a mattress sale- Free Today, just one day buy two on saturday and don’t pay till May (That maybe bad by no one is paying me to write lyrics), that’s just a few, go here (http://ndparis.narod.ru/eng/translations/english.html) and read for yourself, just pick a random song, there all pretty much horrible. Most of the songs are bad- rhyming me with me, all of Anchary (it’s just stupid), He is shining like Sun and Val d’amour and trying to turn the show into Le Miserable with “My Home in Sky”, really I could on and on, but this is an interlude. (when I get to Notre Dame de Paris I’ll probably go into this more, if I’m feeling suicidal)
Janine Masse played Esmeralda in the Las Vegas cast
The mood and emotion is why the show and the original cast are so great. And the translations just sucked it away and not even the alumni from the original cast could save it. Plus and I’m not sure what it is, but it seems that none of the performers can sing these lyrics properly they all seem breathless, mumbly and lost as they sing, which just adds to the weakness and lack of emotion. So you can’t really blame the singers.
So while I get that William Jenning has done some very lovely lyrics for popular songs “My Heart Will Go On” and my personal favorite “If We Hold On Together” from The Land Before Time, The Notre dame de Paris lyrics is not his finest work and someone should have ordered a better translation before the Asian Tour was even announced. But because of his cache that a retranslation was never done. Let hope someone, someday will look passed the name and actually listen to the English lyrics and get that retranslation that the fans deserve.
So to answer the title of this post “William Jennings Considered Harmful?”, Yes, Yes He is!
A Dancer performing in Bohomienne in The 2011 Asian Tour of Notre Dame de Paris