Review: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
By Megan Wirts
I had the pleasure of attending one of the final dress rehearsals for Grant High School Theater’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and I suggest you all run out to see it this weekend or next, March 1-2 and 8-9. This show left me in a puddle of emotions. From the instant goosebumps during the opening number to the finale in which we are asked “What makes a monster and what makes a man?”, these kids are phenomenal.
The show is an adaptation of the novel by Victor Hugo and features music from the 1996 animated Disney film. The story takes place in 1482 France where our hero Quasimodo lives his life in the cathedral of Notre Dame. Dom Claude Frollo reluctantly takes Quasimodo in after the death of Frollo’s brother Jehan and is anything but kind to his nephew. He tells him he is ugly, makes him feel worthless and less than human because of his disabilities. Then one day a group of gypsies come to the city and with the urging of his gargoyle friends, Quasimodo leaves the confines of his “sanctuary” and meets the beautiful Esmeralda and his life is forever changed.
I cannot believe these are high school and middle school students.When the lights came up during the intermission the small audience behind me all exclaimed, “WOW!!” in unison. The talent is overflowing in Grant and director Lukas Sweers has turned these kids into musical theater stars. Even with over 2 weeks of rehearsals missed due to snow and ice, these kids are on fire. With an inspiring set and imaginative lighting, Notre Dame and the streets of Paris come to life before your eyes.
The entire cast of Hunchback shines even during the darkest parts of the show. With upbeat songs like “Topsy Turvy” and “Rest and Recreation”, to the sweet and tender “Someday”, the show takes you on an emotional journey. Brighton Fries shows off her powerful vocals as Clopin the leader of the gypsies. Keegan Kendall is fantastic as Phoebus de Martin, the soldier that falls in love with our heroine Esmeralda. The exquisite Zoe Zimmerman plays the part of Esmeralda well, showing us her grace, kindness and a little bit of spunk. During her solo “God Help the Outcasts” we really get to see her shine.
I was impressed with Nic Anderson in the role of Quasimodo. I could feel his isolation and longing to be out in the world as he sang, “Out There”, and I was reduced to tears as I watched him grow to love Esmeralda and become the man he truly was meant to be, even though he was abused and dehumanized by his uncle Frollo. Brendan Carroll plays the heinous Dom Claude Frollo so well that I hated him. Frollo, a priest, is filled with lust when he sees Esmeralda and becomes obsessed with her stopping at nothing to hunt her down. He is staunch and defends his evil acts, by blaming his lustfulness on the woman he desires instead of his own self. Carroll’s rich deep voice is excellent for this role, he is perfectly villainous and I particularly loved his solo “Hellfire”.
The ensemble is rounded out by a delightful chorus of gargoyles, saints, paris citizens and lively, colorful gypsies. I was overwhelmingly impressed with the level of professionalism these kids possess.
This show moved me deeply and left me feeling proud to be from this small town filled with talent beyond my own comprehension. The story of love, lust, obsession and heroism is timeless, and the entire cast and crew of The Hunchback of Notre Dame make this show memorable and moving.
Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults. They are available at the Grant Fine Arts Center box office: Click Here to order online or call (231) 834.5630.
Performances will be at the Grant Fine Arts Center on March 1 and 2 at 7:00 pm, March 8 at 7:00 pm, March 9 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Do not miss this!
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