Esmeralda and Quasimodo in Notre Dame Ma Maison c'est ta maison garou helene Segara Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda and Quasimodo in Notre Dame

Compared to other musicals in the world, Notre Dame de Paris is VERY minimal for something that is marketed as a spectacle. As far as sets, set pieces and props, there isn’t really much going on in the show.

Luc Merville Clopin and the Court of miracles and the Attack of Notre Dame Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Clopin and the Court of miracles and the Attack of Notre Dame

The bulk of the set is really just a rock climbing wall that fills in for Notre Dame as well as some pillars that help sell the set as the cathedral when the scene demands. This puts a heavy burden on the lightening to change the scene as well as the mood.

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo Esmeralda as Helene Segara Notre Dame de Paris picture image Visite de Frollo à Esmeralda

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo and Esmeralda as Helene Segara

I won’t pretend I’m a lighting wizard who knows about filters and gels and what not, my experience in the theater ended in 8th grade and my teachers didn’t teach the students anything of backstage tech or even acting methods but Notre Dame de Paris does some great things with the lighting. It’s moody when it needs to be and warm and bright to communicate the outside. It has some nice patterns of cobblestone and rose windows. I don’t think that is too complex of an effect but it’s a nice touch throughout the show.

Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire with dancer during Le Val d’amour Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire with dancer during Le Val d’amour

Then there is the dancing and acrobatics which is probably where most of the marketed “spectacle” lives. The dancing is sort of a mixed bag in terms of conception because without it the show is less a musical and more of a glorified concert but at some points it gets in the way of the show.

Not too often does the dancing do this but at some points it’s overkill, though I will admit that could a side effect of the editing on the DVD. I mean it’s not like I can just go to a place whenever and see the show, it hasn’t been in North American since 2005 and only has been performed in my country for one cast run in 2000 for six months. Am I bitter? Yes!

Garou Helene Segara Quasimodo and Esmeralda Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Quasimodo and Esmeralda

This post has gotten away from me. Anyway the staging, it’s fine for what it is, stylized minimalism.

Full Stage view during the Bells of Notre Dame King's Academy Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Full Stage view during the Bells of Notre Dame King’s Academy Hunchback of Notre Dame

The stage that the King Academy used for their production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is divided into a few parts. The lowest level is used for dance number and one could say it represents the streets of Paris and a few of the principle cast use this level. Then there is a ramp to the next level with is sort of like Sanctuary of Notre Dame as well as other setting like Square of Notre Dame. Then you have the upper most level which is the Bell tower. There is also the sides which the ensemble uses but Esmeralda appears there during the Esmeralda song.

At first I thought the fact that most of the action takes place at the upper level would impede the viewing experience for an audience but I think I was wrong. From a video vantage point that could be true, if you are watching it from the camera’s angle but just in a wide shot the action in the bell tower would look remote. However from the audience they would be able to see the action clearer as they have to look up and there would nothing to block their view. I sort of recall seeing a play that had a similar height presentation and I’m pretty short so it worked out for me.

Otherwise the staging is fairly straightforward there are not too many surprises, a character sings and they pretty much stand still while the ensemble does a little choreography while singing and the dancers dance at the lowest level. Well, there was one surprise, the gargoyles are suspended and swing around a little bit but still pretty much in one spot but it was a nice touch.

Also before I end this, the Notre Dame set was really great.

So next up is staging, where things, mainly actors, are position in scenes of a movie. As I was looking at the costumes I noticed something, a lot of the shots are medium or close up unless it was a big epic scene or an establishing shot . This makes it hard to get pictures of costumes but it also makes staging difficult to review. Another factor that makes staging reviewing difficult is that the editing cuts between shots are very frequent, though the cuts are not insane or abnormal. Also other than establishing shot you don’t get a feel for the spaces the characters occupy, not even Notre Dame.

 

Watching the Play 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Watching the Play

Gringoire's Play 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Gringoire's Play

So it’s hard to gauge the characters’ movement in the film space. For the most part I say that the characters use the spaces logically  but it’s hard to gauge where the characters are in relation to each other in the space in a given scene. A good example of this is during the Feast of Fools. First you see Louis and Frollo sitting in the royal box watching the festivities. From their vantage point they can see Gringoire’s play. The beggars start to complain  that they’re not get money because of the play.

Beggar in long shot 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Beggar in long shot

Beggar and Clopin Medium shot 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Beggar and Clopin Medium shot

 

 

(Edit Alert; in the longer shot as Clopin walk up you can’t see the stage but when the scene cuts to a medium shot of Clopin and the beggar the stage can be seen).


Clopin puts an end to Gringoire’s play and then on the same stage the King of Fools contest begins. As the contest starts we Louis and Frollo talk about it how ugliness is fascinating and how the noble seem interested.

 

Extras 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture iame

Extras watching the King of Fool contest

Phoebus in armor (on left) Alan Marshal 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture iamge

Phoebus (left) watches Esmeralda

The scene cuts to nobles looking at the stage, it is in this line up of nobles that Phoebus is seen making a comments about Esmeralda who is dancing.

 

 

 

Esmeralda spots an eyes staring Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda spots an eyes staring

The crowd drags Quasimodo to the stage  1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

The crowd drags Quasimodo to the stage

As she dances it’s hard to make out where the stage is but it seems to be to left.  Louis and Frollo in their box are watching her and looking slightly to the right, as well as Gringoire. Louis and Frollo have to be somewhat close to her as Louis throws her some money without much effort and Quasimodo is hiding under the royal box  and Esmeralda can see him staring at her. The crowd then drags Quasimodo to stage which looks like a long distance from the box.

The distance could be attributive to Quasimodo trying to escape the crowd or it’s because the Director William Dieterle was a student of German Expressionism which likes twisting scales and playing distortions. It any case this scene it has some logic but you can’t get a feel for the space. Where is the royal box? How far is it from the stage? Where is Esmeralda performance in relation to the stage and the royal box? These are questions that the film never quite answers because it’s to hard to decern the space, the movement and spacial relation

Next time  Sets!