Second Act and we’re back to three songs.

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

Entr’acte – There isn’t much to say on this on a contextual level as it just a the choir singing a melody of the songs as while as music in latin. That being said, it’s gorgeous. I really love Out There in latin. It’s the prefect capsule of the Disney score of the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Flight into Egypt – Another New Song for the production. This song differs between the La Jolla version and the cast album i.e. the Papermills version as the remove a verse from the La Jolla cast and replace it with a verse about the Amulet map. In the La Jolla version Esmeralda gives him the map after the song.

In a way this song replaces A Guy Like you, in that Quasimodo’s friends offer him encouragement by way of a song. There is also the little matter of both song give Quasimodo the idea that Esmeralda Like-likes him. As much as I don’t want to defend A Guy Like you, I’m going to. In a A Guy Like you the Gargoyles plant that idea into Quasimodo’s head, whether they are Quasimodo imaginary friends or not is a mute point. In this song Quasimodo likens protecting Esmeralda to being like a bride. I think the propping up of Quasimodo’s hope by his pals and then the having his hope dashed is more heart-breaking than a mild thought across his mind especially where Quasimodo has inability to believe anyone could love him, it hard to take in that he would reach that conclusion. Unless it really was just a passing fantasy but that makes the heartbreak and the pain less believable.  I mean the song is just encouraging Quasimodo to save her like a beheaded Saint. That being said Flight into Egypt is better than A Guy Like you. A Guy Like you is really mean-spited.

One thing that weird is that Quasimodo doesn’t know the name of Saint Aphrodisius. I mean it’s played for a laugh but for  a guy whose life was Notre Dame and studied the religion it’s just weird. Though maybe Quasimodo was friends with the Stained Glass windows. I will say that way they did  Saint Aphrodisius in the La Jolla show with the singer’s head going off and on was the best bit of stage craft so far.

As the Song goes, it’s pretty good. It’s a nice melody and ties into Notre Dame well.

The Court of Miracles –  The tempo on this song has been slowed down. This makes it creepier but far less fun than the Disney version.  They also have replaced a lot of lyrics from the movie. For instance the line from the movie “We find you totally innocent, which is the worst crime of all.” with “We have to protect at all costs our secret; it’s our lives or yours, so you’re going to hang.” From mu understanding this could be because any reference to Frollo being a judge has been taken out and in that line Clopin was mocking Frollo, so they replaced it. I also miss the line where Clopin asked if Phoebus and Quasimodo have any last words and they being gag muff something and Clopin says “That’s what they all say.” Now it’s “Didn’t think so.” Again they removed Clopin mocking judges and such.

Beat for beat the song is the same I just didn’t care for this rendition.

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

Patrick Page as Frollo singing Hellfire, Papermills

Heaven’s Light – There isn’t much to say on this version of the song. Arden performs it very well and is a better singer that Hulce in the movie. Though I would say, at least in the cast album, it seems like Arden is fighting the impulse to sing in that broadway nasal style, which doesn’t work with the soft, light quality of stye song. Not saying he doesn’t capture the song because he does.  Anyway solid version of the song and the last note Arden holds is lovely.  I can understand if people prefer Arden’s version to the movie version, he puts passion into it and not that school boy crush of the movie.

Hellfire –  The Disney movie’s Hellfire is a hard act to replicate as it one of the highlights of the movie and is one of best songs in the Disney Pantheon. I would say the musical should have made this song more of its own instead of trying to emulate the movie. In stage show they did, to a point, I mean they striped it down to just Frollo and a red lighting effect but the song is just Hellfire with Patrick Page singing instead of Tony Jay. Jay’s version is just so perfect that this version feels lukewarm at its hottest. No disrespect to Page, he is a great singer but much like Norbert Lamla in the German version of the musical, he is channeling too much of Tony Jay.  Though to be fair, people want  Hellfire and that is what the musical gave them. It’s a damn if they don’t and damn if they do since the animation and Tony Jay made Hellfire.

However there is another issue with Hellfire in this version that bridges the movie and the book. In the Disney movie, Frollo is a more in touch with his anger and how it relates to his control over the city, so it makes sense that his lust is channeled through his anger IE Hellfire. In the book, Frollo valves his purity as means to keeping his control over himself and his lust is channeled out through self-loathing till it explodes with stabbing Phoebus.

As it is in the  musical there is a disconnect between Frollo’s personality and Hellfire. Yes, he does get mad when Esmeralda calls him out on the way he looks at her but then he goes out searching for her and his part in Tavern Song sounds more desperate than mad which makes Hellfire seem more out of place in the scheme of things.  I think the idea is that Hellfire at first showcases his desperation for control and he gets more consumed as the song goes on. Though in the book Frollo wasn’t that mad that Esmeralda was dragging him off to Hell, he rather welcome it, sure it made him go crazy to the point where he wanted to kill her but he was more mad that she going to give her virginity to someone who didn’t deserve her and that she didn’t want him. I don’t think book Frollo would sing this song. I will say that it’s a tough task merging Book Frollo with Disney Frollo since they are very different from each other but the causality of it seems to be Hellfire.

Or this could all be my head and I’m seeing an issue that isn’t there, or I didn’t explain my point very well. Both are possible. As it stand this a very tepid version of the song though the chorus is great.

 

 

One thing before I start the songs, I will discuss the La Jolla performance a little when I’m done with the album because the scene prior to this was so much of a combo of the 1939 version and the Disney version plus the scene after Top of the World is such a massive change from the movie that I have to talk about the show itself even if the show was changed from the La Jolla version and the Papermill version.  Also there are one two songs this week for dramatic reasons like Heaven’s Light and Hellfire are meant as a set.

Ciara Renee and Micheal Arden in the Jolla Production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Ciara Renee and Micheal Arden in the La Jolla Production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Top of the World – This song is from the original German version. It’s a very nice little song about viewing things from a different preceptive and Quasimodo and Esmeralda bonding. In the German version, the Gargoyles sing the part where the Chrous of Quasismodo’s imaginary nameless pals sing. There is a fundamental difference between this version and the German version, this version is a lot slower paced and seems more serious. The German version had a more upbeat, faster and light take on this song. This could because the Gargoyles were the comic relief and this version has distanced itself from the silliness of the movie to be more serious like the book. Though the book did have some funny parts.

I mean the song is pretty enough but I do prefer the German version even with the Gargoyles.

Tavern Song (Thai Mol Piyas) – This song is another original song to this musical and can I just say in listening to the album first I was very confused of how this song came after Top of the World but it makes some sense with the show. Anyway this song takes place at the Pomme d’Eve* which is from the book where Esmeralda and Phoebus have their meeting which Frollo ruined with his stabbing Phoebus. Instead of all that it just seems like Frollo was stalking her   for a few months**,  hears her in bar dancing and flirting, in the show she kisses Phoebus, and Frollo gets more hot and bothered than he already was.

This song is very fun. It has a very distinct sound from the rest of the songs (so far) though Frollo’s part is sounds more like Out There rather the Sanctuary leitmotif, which is ironic since he is looking inside a buidling.

Oddly I really like the whisper singing of this song.  It’s a fun upbeat songs, I really enjoyed it.

One Source said that Thai Mol Piyas it means “And we Drink wine” in Romani.

 

Side of Note – This is the 130oth Blog Post!

*Correction, Pomme d’Eve was not where Esmeralda and Phoesbus met. They met at a Falourdel’s. Pomme d’Ever is a a better name though.

**Frollo first saw Esmeralda on January 6th and the song mentions “Winter is dying” which means it has to be mid March at the earliest. But also this is a very subtle nod to the book. In Book 7 Chapter 4 of the novel, Hugo makes mention of the date, March 29th. And this chapter occurs about the time of the Pomme d’Eve scene.  So kudos Musical.

 

So many side notes on this post.

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

Topsy Turvy Part 2 –  And Now Part 2 of Topsy Turvy. This part is the King of Fools segment and Quasimodo’s crowning. It has a few differences from the movie version most notably Esmeralda has a few spoken lines and they there is the tune from Sanctuary in there. I probably should mention that  Sanctuary was a song from the German version that occurred right before Out There. In this musical it is more of a Frollo Leitmotif piece than a full song. It’s also heard in Bells of Notre Dame and the next song Into Notre Dame.

As for this song, it’s fine if you like it in the movie you should like it here. I’m not a huge fan of Erik Liberman’s voice on this song but that is a personal preference more than a criticism.

Into Notre Dame –  This song is a bit of a Frankenstein song, I mean that nicely as it just a combo of three songs, well really two. The first part of this is Frollo telling Quasimodo that he was right, that people  suck and he should stay in his Sanctuary. So for this part we get Out there reprise and the shadows of Sanctuary or as I will just call it Frollo’s Leitmotif.

The second part of this song is Esmeralda entering Notre Dame to the tune of the Bells of Notre Dame. This part is quite lovely. I especially love Ciara’ voice on her line ” The Light of Notre Dame.” I must say so far that is my favorite part so far. Also it’s nice to speak of another aspect of Notre Dame than just the bells.

This song is really just a segue song to get from the festival to Notre Dame so that explains why it doesn’t have its own melody but the pieces of the other song work to move the plot and they make sense with the subject matter.

God Help the Outcasts –  For the big songs of Hunchback they are going to perform they near exact to the movie because that one thing the people want, they want to hear their favorite songs along with new songs and no gargoyles and that is pretty much it. So God Help the Outcasts is just that, identical to the movie which is better than Glockner which gave a change that I hated. They made it a duet with Quasimodo which meant Esmeralda didn’t have her own song though Phoebus did. That still bothers me.

All and all aside from some key shifts and singing a bit lower it’s the same song. I do love the chorus on the “bless me part” ironically it sounded very ethereal. Ciara Renee definitely has similar voice quality to the original singer Heidi Mollenhauer whose has very tender warm slightly smoky quality to her voice. It’s a very nice version of the song I just don’t love the song as much other people but again that is a personal thing and not a criticism. I was hoping that this version would sway me into liking more but it didn’t. Not the song fault I’m a hard sell.

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda, Papermill production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda, Papermill production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

Topsy Turvy Part 1–  Topsy Turvy  is broken up  into two parts to allow two songs to happen as a mean to introduce Phoebus and Esmeralda. Though technically Phoebus makes his first appearance in this song where we learn that last name of his. More on that soon.

The first 30 second is pretty much identical to the movie. However then Quasimodo sings a bit along with some new lyrics sung by the Chorus. His part has a slight reprise to Out There to it. Also the whole of Quasimodo part  feels very musical-y  and also rhyming Now with Now? You guys could have done better.

The Clopin’s a part start and it’s again it’s identical to the movie, though I do admit I prefer Paul Kandel’s sining. The song again shifts to Phoebus appearing in the crowd after The sixth of January line or “Januervy.” And he pretty much announces himself to everyone, Frollo and Jehan did the same thing In Bells so I guess it just a thing the musical does though I don’t really care for people narrating themselves, though the chorus joins in to tells us that “he has a haunted look in his eyes.”  Anyway this part leads in to the next song…

Rest and Recreation – This song was in the German version and now it’s back. It uses Phoebus’ march from the movie.  Much like in the movie Phoebus is back from the Front.   But you know I have to ask what war? What Front? Phoebus says that he has been gone four years and seems a bit shaken up from it as they  mention cannon fodder.  I’m no expert on European Wars but France wasn’t in wars in 1482. The wars that France was in that were the closest to 1482 were The War of Castilian Succession  of 1475 to 1479 and The Burgundian War of 1474 to 1477. It could be a simple matter that the musical doesn’t take place in 1482 except they say it did. Song mentions a siege and bodies in a trench which are probably more like hot words than actually referring to a war or battle. I can deal with unnamed War in the Disney movie but here it’s a harder pill to swallow since the musical is truing to be more like the book. I mean did the say which war it was in musical?  But this backstory takes me out of the song.

So back to the song. Phoebus also mentions that he’s on furlough but then he gets his new promotion as Captain of the Cathedral Guard. I’m going to real with you guys, that is the stupidest thing. I get what they are doing. Phoebus has to be Frollo’s minion for his character arc and Frollo is now a Priest so the tidiest way to handle this is to make Phoebus the Captain of the Cathedral Guard. BUT Cathedrals didn’t have private guards. This even goes against the book where the Sanity of the Church was respected, even Disney movie Frollo respected it.

Anyway  the I haven’t really discussed the song yet. Much like in German version Rest and Recreation tries to amalgamate book Phoebus with movie Phoebus. Book Phoebus was womanizer and movie Phoebus is nobel and gallant. Since Phoebus is described as having “a dashing manner and bold swagger” we know he got those personality down but the song gives us a reason why Phoebus wants the ladies, because he been away at the unnamed Fantasy war. Despite the war and Notre Dame guard the song is successful at give the blending of Phoebus’s characterization and setting up his character in this version.

Rhythm of the Tambourine – This song is Esmeralda’s introduction song which is also her dance number during the festival. It is also the first new song of this musical version. Judging from the lines Phoebus, Frollo and Quasimodo sing about “who is she” I’m going to guess Esmeralda and Quasimodo didn’t have their little moment where Quasimodo crashes into dressing room, but I could wrong, I’m probably wrong.

Rhythm of the Tambourine is very staccato which I would guess is for said tambourine but it does nothing for me. Also is just me or is this song reminiscent  of Carol of the Bells? Wonder if that was one purpose?   I do like her attitude on dance that it just for fun as she ask “What can it hurt?” Such delightful irony. We also get a Belle moment as like I said Phoebus, Frollo and Quasimodo sing about her. Frollo likens her to a devil, classic him. Phoebus and Quasimodo liken her to an angel but Phoebus goes on to say that she dances with Fire.

It’s decent song and clearly gets across Esmeralda’s love for dance which she REALLY didn’t have in the Disney movie as well as the guys views on her.

 

So this series of review is really just based on the Cast Album and not so much the show itself, that is not say I won’t say anything about the stage production if there is video of it available. Also at this point I haven’t heard the whole album in its entirety.

Olim – Olim is the  actually the first bit of music heard in the Disney movie version and honestly I’m not sure why it’s a separate track. It seems unnecessary to me. Maybe it’s because of the dramatic tone of the opening to what is now The Bells of Notre Dame is different.

All in All it’s the same of the film counterpart, Georgian chanting in Latin. And if your curious the lyrics are; “Once, long ago, God arrived, In this age of brightness, He will come again.” It’s not “Here comes a lion, Father, Oh yes, it’s a lion” but it’s okay.

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 Bells of Notre Dame – A part of me wants to like this song more than I do since I love the movie version. Like in the movie we’re given the backstory of Quasimodo and Frollo but it’s very different as it tries to amalgamate the movie with the book. So first difference we are introduced to Frollo’s younger brother Jehan which is like book. Also like the book Jehan is a wild child. Jehan is sent away from Notre Dame for sneaking a Gyspy Girl into the Chruch so Frollo could get some.  Unlike the book Jehan is the father of Quasimodo. The mother was Gypsy girl, the same one who Jehan brought into the church. As Jehan is dying he begs Frollo to look after the child and he does and give him the cruel name, unlike the book where it was Quasimodo sunday.

I do like that they brought Jehan into the picture and they’re right that  reason why Frollo took in little Quasimodo was out love for his brother but it’s sort of trite here. Book Frollo did it out empathy for a child that had no one because his brother had been in almost same position and here in this musical he does it as a cross to bear out a sense of guilt. Also I don’t like that they have that familial connect of uncle and nephew. It takes away something from their relationship at least for me.

But wait there is more. In the movie when Frollo is chasing down Quasimodo’s mother there is this swell of dramatic music that fits that part perfectly. They have that same music in this version as Frollo is walking with baby Quasimodo but so out place. I really couldn’t tell if Frollo was thinking killing baby Quasimodo or what. It’s jarring and should not have been there despite that fact that it’s awesome music.

The Chorus singing the parts instead of Clopin was interesting not bad just different. BUT one thing I can not and I mean CAN NOT forgive is how they pronounce Jehan. They say like Jay-AN. It’s not inherently wrong but they over emphasis the sounds. They could have just said John. I mean they didn’t keep Phoebus’ last name so what difference does it really make? They call him Phoebus de Martin not sure why since he had a last in the book and plus they missed a great pun by adding that R. He could have been Sun of Morning, Phoebus de Matin. And yet they get Clopin’s last name correct.

Anyway, it’s a good opening that does tries to be a good blend of movie and book it just missed it a bit for me.

 

Out There –  Out There isn’t at all different than its movie counterpart, they play it straight. One thing I did like is the difference of Arden’s voice when he singing the part with Frollo vs his solo. Where he sound more deaf and unsure in Frollo’s presence and then more refined one his own. The movie did this too to a degree but Quasimodo was just meek and timid.  It’s a fine version. I will say that song is a little weird considering Quasimodo didn’t seem that interested earlier in the scene. Like he wasn’t the type to really care to remember  the town’s people’s faces. Still a nice version it’s just a disconnect between the book and the movie.

Hunchback of Notre Dame Cast Recording Album picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame Cast Recording Album

In 1999 there a German musical version of Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was always the desire of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz that the production should come to the States. It wasn’t till 2013 when The King’s Academy did a production of it which was a collaboration with Disney. This paved the way for two profession versions to be performed as a pre-Broadway try-out at La Jolla Playhouse in last 2014 and at the Papermill Playhouse in early 2015. Ultimately the show did not go to Broadway and is being played around the Country at smaller Professional venues. However on January 22 there was a Studio Cast Album released. It has gotten some critical acclaim and was the number one for Cast Album sales, as well as 17 in album sales and made Billboard  200 at 47. So it has done well.

 

For the next couple of weeks, because that is how I do things, we’re going to look a few songs at a time. I’ll give my impressions, thoughts etc. And we’ll see if this  really is the critical darling of people’s dream or is just pale comparison to the German version. My guess is that is somewhere in the middle.

Well this has been a thing for the last few years so why stop now?

Quasimodo – Start Online Dating.
Esmeralda – Start a Youtube Channel dedicated to dancing, being wonderful, and all things pretty.
Frollo – Stalk her more through Social Media!
Phoebus – Join Tinder,
Gringoire – Start a VlOG channel dedicate to my genius and poetic proses!
Clopin –  Start an Internet Scams.
Fleur de Lys – Start a Youtube Channel  about how to be fashionable, graceful and the classiest way to break up with men who are scum.
Jehan – Learn how to get money with no work or effort.
Djali –  Learn Python.
Sister Gudule –  Post more pictures of my baby on Facebook.
Notre Dame –  Join Myspace

 

 

Past Years ;

https://www.thehunchblog.com/2015/01/2015-hunchback-new-year-resolutions/
https://www.thehunchblog.com/2014/01/hunchback-resolutions-2014/
https://www.thehunchblog.com/2013/01/new-years-resolution/

Esmeralda Smiling, Maureen O'Hara 1939 HUnchback of Notre Dame picture image

Maureen O’Hara as Esmeralda 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

As many of you may already know, yesterday Maureen O’Hara died peacefully at her home in Idaho at the age of 95.

O’Hara has been hailed as the queen of Technicolor. Her filmography was very long and included some very well regarded movies like The Quiet Man (1952), How Green was my Valley (1940), and Miracle on 34th Street (1947), just to name a few, she had many.

Hunchback of Notre Dame was her hollywood debut and I maintain that it was the best movie version of Hunchback.

I do recommend reading her autobiography. It’s a really engaging read that captures her passionate fiery personality.

In her autobiography, written with longtime manager John Nicoletti, O’Hara wrote:

“When I was young, I didn’t think I was at all pretty. I was told only that I had a sulky, pouty face. Ironically, after I got to Hollywood, I resented that I didn’t get a crack at more dramatic role because I photographed so beautifully. More than anything, though, it was the way I used my eyes that caused audiences to look deep inside my characters to see what else was there.”