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The Hunchback of Notre Dame (musical)

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Glocknercdcover
Musical information
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Book James Lapine
Basis Disney film The Hunchback of Notre Dame and elements of Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo
Productions 1999 (Berlin)
2014 (U.S Premiere)
Awards

Der Glöckner von Notre Dame (literally translated in English, The Bellringer of Notre Dame) is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and book by James Lapine. The musical is based on the 1996 Disney film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which was inspired by the 1831 Victor Hugo novel of the same name.

The musical premiered in 1999 in Berlin, Germany, produced by Walt Disney Theatrical, the company's first musical to premiere outside the U.S. It ran for three years, becoming one of Berlin's longest-running musicals.

Production

The musical opened on June 5, 1999, for the opening of the Musicaltheater Berlin (now Theater am Potsdamer Platz (DE)), Berlin.[1] After a successful run, it closed in June 2002.[2] Directed by Lapine, the German translation was by Michael Kunze, choreography by Lar Lubovitch, set design by Heidi Ettinger, costume design by Sue Blane, lighting by Rick Fisher, sound by Tony Meola and projections by Jerome Sirlin.[3][4][5]

This was Disney's first musical to premiere outside the US,[2] and it became one of Berlin's longest-running musicals to date. As with Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, Der Glöckner Von Notre Dame opened three years after the release of the movie it is based on.

The musical is a darker, more gothic adaptation of the film. According to translator Michael Kunze, he was " 'campaigning to allow Esmeralda to die at the end, as she does in the book. There was a feeling that the audience would be depressed if Esmeralda dies. I feel that a European audience would see this as a very romantic ending ... two lost souls finally find each other. People will cry, but they'll be moved. And it is a very romantic ending.' "[6] The producers wanted to see how "preview audiences react before making the final decision."[6]

An original cast recording was recorded in German.[7]

English adaptation

In 2008, Stephen Schwartz said, "I think we're starting up Hunchback of Notre Dame, hopefully, next year [2009]." In a November 2010 interview, Alan Menken confirmed that he was working on an American production: "We're bringing that one back, too! ... we are still using James Lapine's book."

On January 9, 2013, it was announced that the musical will finally come on Broadway with a new book by Peter Parnell and new songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, who did the songs for the movie and the original musical. Nothing else is known, including the release date and casting. Many news sources have noted that they hope the production retains the dark and Gothic qualities of the German stage version, which they feel was censored by Disney studios for the film.

In April 2013, an English adaptation of Der Glöckner von Notre Dame by The King's Academy Fine Arts Department was staged in The King's Academy Sports & Fine Arts Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. According to TKA, "Walt Disney Productions...selected The King’s Academy Theatre to adapt and premiere their [1996 film]". The company collaborated with Disney Executive Studios. They explained via YouTube that "We received a license from Disney Productions to premiere the English version of Hunchback. Disney is now workshopping this musical for a possible run on Broadway. Our director, Mr. David Snyder, recently returned from NYC where he helped to cast talent for the new show!" This version does not include all the songs from Der Glöckner von Notre Dame, and excludes the deaths of Esmerelda and Frollo. Nevertheless, it is essentially a translation of that musical as opposed to a new adaption of the film. The entire musical is up on YouTube.

The musical will have its US premiere at La Jolla Playhouse from October 28 through December 7, 2014. The production will be directed by Scott Schwartz and the creative includes Josh Bergasse as the choreographer, Michael Kosarin as the music supervisor and arranger, Michael Starobin as the orchestrator, Alexander Dodge as the scenic designer, Alejo Vietti as the costume design Howell Binkley as the lighting designer, and Gareth Owen as the sound design. The Hunchback of Notre Dame had a workshop in February 2014.

Synopsis

Act I

The musical opens in 1482 Paris, where Clopin, an old gypsy beggar, sings of the bells of the Cathedral of Notre Dame ("The Bells of Notre Dame") and tells the story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The story begins as three gypsies sneak illegally into Paris, but are ambushed by a squadron of soldiers working for the Minister of Justice, Claude Frollo. A gypsy woman attempts to flee with her baby, but Frollo catches her and kills her outside of Notre Dame, intending to kill the deformed baby. However, he is stopped by the Archdeacon who accuses him of murdering the gypsy woman. Frollo accepts the Archdeacon's offer to raise the child in the cathedral's bell tower, naming him Quasimodo.

Twenty years later, Quasimodo is the bell ringer of Notre Dame and has become a kind young man with three gargoyles - Antoine, Charles and Loni - as his friends. They encourage him to attend the annual Festival of Fools, but Frollo arrives and forbids Quasimodo to leave the tower, while the gargoyles urge him to disobey and venture out ("Sanctuary"). After Frollo leaves, Quasimodo decides to go out for just one day ("Out There").

While the Parisians continue their preparations for the festival, Clopin, King of the Gypsies, prepares his gypsies for the festival at their underground hide-out, the Court of Miracles ("Balancing Act"). Their attention is taken by a newcomer, a young gypsy dancer named Esmeralda. Meanwhile, Captain Phoebus arrives in Paris excited about his new promotion as Captain of the Guard ("Rest and Recreation"). He flirts with a young girl but is suddenly interrupted by a fleeing gypsy accused of theft. The gypsy pleads innocence but Frollo arrives and orders his soldiers to arrest the gypsy. Frollo tells Phoebus that the city has become overrun by gypsies and that he plans to find the Court of Miracles and eliminate them all.

As the Festival begins ("Topsy Turvy"), Quasimodo arrives in disguise so Frollo will not recognize him. Frollo crosses paths with Esmeralda while dancing for the crowd. Afterwards, people begin to audition for the King of Fools. Thinking Quasimodo is in costume, Esmeralda pulls Quasimodo onstage and the crowd crowns Quasimodo as their king, only to be humiliated. Esmeralda intervenes and openly defies Frollo's orders to let the hunchback suffer. Esmeralda comes to Quasimodo's rescue and Frollo orders Phoebus to arrest her but Esmeralda disappears. Frollo scolds Quasimodo and sends him back to the cathedral.

Esmeralda follows Quasimodo but Phoebus catches her inside the cathederal. Frollo arrives and interrogates her but the Archdeacon orders Frollo to leave, because those in the cathedral are protected by the law of sanctuary. Esmeralda prays for her people and the down-trodden ("God Help the Outcast"). Meanwhile, Frollo orders Phoebus to post a guard at every door to ensure that Esmeralda does not escape.

Esmeralda follows Quasimodo to the bell tower and is captivated by the view of the city ("On Top of the World"). To repay Esmeralda for rescuing him, Quasimodo offers to show her a way out of the cathedral. Before leaving, Esmeralda gives him an amulet leading to the Court of Miracles should he ever need to find her, and she also kisses him on the cheek. After Esmeralda leaves, Quasimodo expresses his feelings, as he has been touched by Esmeralda's kindness ("Heaven’s Light"). Frollo begins to realize his lustful feelings for Esmeralda and wishes to be free of them to escape eternal damnation ("Hellfire").

Discovering that Esmeralda escaped, Frollo asks Quasimodo where she is, but he says that he does not know. Frollo orders a city-wide manhunt to find Esmeralda. Realizing that Frollo has fallen into madness, Phoebus defies Frollo, who orders his execution. Pheobus flees while Frollo and his men begin to search the city ("Esmeralda"). Phoebus falls into the river below after being shot by an arrow but Esmeralda rescues him.

Act II

The soldiers continue searching the city ("City Under Siege"). Esmeralda rescues Phoebus and tells him to seek sanctuary at Notre Dame while she returns to the Court of Miracles. Meanwhile, the gargoyles convince Quasimodo that Esmeralda finds him romantically intriguing, and they reassure him about her safety ("A Guy Like You"). The Archdeacon brings Phoebus to the bell tower and Phoebus, knowing Quasimodo to be a friend of Esmeralda's, asks Quasimodo to hide him.

Frollo returns and discovers that Quasimodo helped Esmeralda escape after asking him. Frollo tells Quasimodo that he knows where the Court of Miracles is and intends to attack at dawn. After Frollo leaves, Phoebus comes out of hiding and asks Quasimodo to help him find the Court of Miracles and warn Esmeralda. Quasimodo refuses to leave the cathedral again but Phoebus and the gargoyles teach Quasimodo the value of devotion and selflessness ("Out of Love").

Using Esmeralda's amulet as their guide, Quasimodo and Phoebus find the Court of Miracles. The gypsies assume them to be Frollo's spies but Esmeralda assures them that the two men are friends. Phoebus tells the gypsies about Frollo's plan and Clopin orders the gypsies to prepare to leave. Esmeralda and Phoebus decide to leave the city together while Quasimodo, heartbroken, watches Esmeralda leave with the man she truly loves ("Out of Love" (Reprise)). However, Frollo's army appears and captures them, with Frollo revealing that he had followed Quasimodo.

Esmeralda refuses Frollo's offer for freedom in exchange for becoming his mistress. Quasimodo, tied up in the bell tower, refuses to help and tells the gargoyles to leave him ("Made of Stone"). As dawn approaches, Esmeralda awaits her execution in the dungeon with Phoebus hoping that one day the world will be a better place ("Someday").

Witnessing Frollo burning Esmeralda at the stake, Quasimodo gives in to his anger and rescues her. Phoebus ignites a mutiny and leads the citizenry to fight with Frollo's soldiers. Quasimodo calls upon the saints and the gargoyles before using a cauldron filled with molten cascade to make sure no one gets inside. Frollo, however, breaks into the cathedral. Esmeralda dies after thanking him for being a good friend. Quasimodo breaks down beside her body as Frollo comes into the room to kill him with a dagger. Quasimodo fights back and after a long struggle, he throws Frollo over the balcony to his death. The gargoyles comfort Quasimodo and tell him the world is full of good as well as evil. The Parisians watch as Quasimodo carries Esmeralda's body through the square with Phoebus by his side. Clopin appears again and asks what makes a monster and what makes a man ("Grand Finale").

Musical numbers

Act I[8]
  • "Die Glocken Notre Dames" ("The Bells of Notre Dame") – Clopin, Archdeacon, Frollo & Chorus
  • "Zuflucht" ("Sanctuary") – Frollo, Quasimodo, Antoine, Charles & Loni
  • "Draußen" ("Out There") – Quasimodo
  • "Tanz auf dem Seil" ("Balancing Act") – Clopin, Esmeralda & Gypsies
  • "Ein bißchen Freude" ("Rest and Recreation") – Phoebus
  • "Drunter drüber" ("Topsy Turvy") – Clopin, Quasimodo & Crowd
  • "Helf den Verstoß'nen" ("God Help the Outcasts") – Esmeralda, Quasimodo & Parisians
  • "Hoch über der Welt" ("Top of the World") – Esmeralda, Quasimodo, Antoine, Charles & Loni
  • "Das Licht des Himmels" ("Heaven's Light") – Quasimodo
  • "Das Feuer der Hölle" ("Hellfire") – Frollo & Priests
  • "Esmeralda" – Frollo, Quasimodo, Phoebus, Esmeralda, Clopin & Soldiers
Act II
  • "Trommeln in der Stadt" ("City Under Siege") – Clopin & Parisians
  • "Ein Mann wie du" ("A Guy Like You") – Antoine, Charles, Loni & Quasimodo
  • "Weil du liebst" ("Out of Love") – Quasimodo, Phoebus, Antoine, Charles & Loni
  • "Tanz der Zigeuner" ("Dance of the Gypsies") - Orchestra
  • "Weil du liebst ("Out of Love (Reprise)") – Phoebus, Esmeralda & Quasimodo
  • "Wie aus Stein" ("Made of Stone") – Quasimodo, Loni, Charles & Antoine
  • "Einmal" ("Someday") – Esmeralda, Phoebus & Parisians
  • "Grand Finale" – Full Company

Roles and original Berlin cast

Source: Variety Magazine[5]

Differences from the original 1996 film

  • The gargoyles' names have been changed from Victor, Hugo and Laverne to Charles, Antoine and Loni. The gargoyles' comedy in the musical is greatly toned down; they sing in many more songs, and they are also firmly established as figments of Quasimodo's imagination.
  • Neither Esmeralda's goat Djali nor Phoebus' horse Achilles appear in the stage musical.
  • Esmeralda is shown a way out of Notre Dame rather than Quasimodo climbing down, holding her.
  • When narrating, Clopin appears as a crippled old beggar and no longer uses puppets.
  • The song from the film "The Court of Miracles" is replaced by a dance number called "Dance of the Gypsies".
  • Frollo's past is expanded to note that he was once a priest, harking back to his position as the archdeacon in the original novel.
  • Esmeralda dies at the end.
  • Frollo is thrown off the cathedral by Quasimodo, instead of falling from the crumbling gargoyle fixture.
  • "Sanctuary", the song that consists of Quasimodo and Frollo that played before "Out There" is expanded and the Gargoyles are added in the number.
  • It is the archdeacon who brings Phoebus to Quasimodo instead of Esmeralda.

Design features

Set

The set for the original production utilized many large hydraulically controlled boxes that can be placed at every conceivable height and level, and used highly detailed photographic images. The finale of act one shows Phoebus' plummet from a bridge over the Seine after being shot by an arrow.[8]

Sound

The bell effect is produced live in the orchestra pit with both chimes and at times electric keyboards and routed through the console, a Cadac J-Type with motorized faders.[9] Tony Meola noted that the Berlin theatre was "really quite good acoustically for a large musical. It's not too reverberant, yet reverberant enough to make the orchestra sound good and you can hear the words of the songs."[9]

Projections

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is set in medieval Paris with the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris as a central location. "I try to draw from elements of the period," says Jerome Sirlin, who spent a few days in Paris taking photographs of the Seine and of Notre Dame and the views from the cathedral. "The pictures served as source material," he explains, noting that he used versions of the cathedral's gargoyles and other architectural elements to capture the essence of Notre Dame. "You can create a lot of movement with the projections. The audience believes what you tell them if you do it right."[9]

There are projections used in every scene of the show. "Sometimes they are more for scenery or an effect, a texture or an image," continues Sirlin. "There are a variety of ways of working with the large-format projectors and defining your gobos a little differently." An incredibly beautiful use of the projections is a scene that takes place on a bridge above, and then in, the Seine."[9]

Reception

The Variety Magazine reviewer noted that "The prevailing tone, indeed, is far and away the most somber of the three Disney film-to-stage shows yet." He wrote that "The design is likely to be the show's talking point in any language, coupling as it does the best of British and American talent with a new $ 100 million dollar-plus playhouse specifically adapted to accommodate the demands of the piece. The aquamarine stage curtain, Gothic tracery already encoded within it, rises to reveal set designer Heidi Ettinger's ever-shifting array of cubes that join with Jerome Sirlin's projections to conjure the medieval world of the Parisian belltower inhabited by Sarich's misshapen orphan Quasimodo, his unyielding master Frollo (Norbert Lamla) and a trio of very chatty gargoyles...the music tilts towards the generic."[5]

Gallery

 

References

  1. Simonson, Robert and Lefkowitz, David. "Disney's Berlin 'Hunchback'Will Rehearse in New York in Spring 1999" playbill.com, November 10, 1998
  2. 2.0 2.1 "'Der Glöckner von Notre Dame'" thisdayindisneyhistory.com, accessed January 28, 2011
  3. "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," Find Articles at BNET.com, Variety
  4. "'Der Glöckner von Notre Dame', Production History" jameslapine.com, accessed January 28, 2011
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Wolf, Matt. "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (Der Glockner Von Notre Dame)", Variety Magazine, June 21, 1999 - June 27, 1999, Section: Legit Reviews; Abroad; p. 86
  6. 6.0 6.1 Geitner, Paul. "Disney's 'Hunchback' Goes to Stage", Associated Press Online, May 26, 1999, Section: Entertainment, television and culture, Dateline: Berlin
  7. "'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' Cast Album" castalbumdb.com, accessed January 28, 2011
  8. 8.0 8.1 Disney "The Hunchback of Notre Dame Stage production recording", at the musicalschwartz website
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Lampert-Creaux, Ellen."Bells Are Ringing" livedesignonline.com, October 1, 1999

External links


The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame- 1996
Media: The Hunchback of Notre Dame | The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Original Soundtrack) | The Hunchback of Notre Dame (musical) | The Hunchback of Notre Dame II | House of Mouse | Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

Characters: Quasimodo | Esmeralda | Claude Frollo | Phoebus | Hugo, Victor, and Laverne | Clopin | Archdeacon | Achilles | Djali | Quasimodo's mother | Quasimodo's father | Madellaine | Zephyr | Sarousch | Snowball | Brutish and Oafish Guard

Locations: Notre Dame de Paris | Paris, France | Palace of Justice | Court of Miracles

Songs: The Bells of Notre Dame + (Reprise) | Out There | Topsy Turvy | God Help the Outcasts | Hellfire | A Guy Like You | The Court of Miracles | Someday | Le Jour D'Amour | An Ordinary Miracle | I'd Stick With You | Fa la la la Fallen In Love | I'm Gonna Love You | Balancing Act | Rest And Recreation | Top of the World | Esmeralda (Song) | City Under Siege | Out of Love + (Reprise) | Dance of the Gypsies | Made of Stone | Grand Finale

See Also: Disney Sing Along Songs: Topsy Turvy

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