Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Wow! Looking at my previous blog entry, that was almost TWO YEARS AGO!
That is ca-RAZY!

So Hunchback did not transition to Broadway as everyone expected it to.

But... if you missed it...

Oh look, that's the La Jolla production that I saw...

Oh, and there's the following Paper Mill Playhouse production.

The changes were minor between the two, but overall it was a stellar production, and it saddens me to think that it never went any further. Here's hoping someone will pick it up for an international release.

Fingers crossed. At least we have the soundtrack now. (And it's great!)

Monday, July 27, 2015


Okay, so the bad news (terrible news) is that after successful seasons in San Diego and New Jersey, The Hunchback of Notre Dame will NOT be heading to Broadway. Why? I have no idea. Your guess is as good as mine. From what I gathered, houses were full in both seasons, and the show was acclaimed by both critics and audiences alike.

But it's officially off the table for Broadway.

So what's next?

Well, for one, Alan Menken mentioned in an interview (where he expressed his disappointment at the show not playing to New York audiences) that it would soon be open to amateur companies willing to acquire the rights. This is veeeeeery good news for me. I have been wanting to play Quasimodo for over a decade, and my opportunity may have just got a whole lot closer! (I'd better get to practising that high C in "Made of Stone!")

But the other silver lining around this dark cloud is that the show is getting a cast recording CD that will be released this November. BroadwayWorld has all of the info here.

I can't wait to have a proper recording to crank up really loud! I'll be sure to put a post up on the blog once the CD is released.

Monday, March 16, 2015


The next stage of The Hunchback of Notre Dame has officially begun. Now playing at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, The Hunchback of Notre Dame will hopefully be developing a legion of fans as devoted as those it collected in La Jolla.
CLICK HERE to see some interviews with the creative team and cast on opening night.

I was especially interested to hear Stephen Schwartz's comments about Disney's involvement and outlook on the project. I'm so glad everyone is happy with the direction the show has taken.

Good luck to everybody involved! I hope you get to Broadway soon, and then make a really quick hop over to Melbourne!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


The Hunchback of Notre Dame heads towards Phase 2 as it prepares for its premiere in New Jersey!

Sunday, November 30, 2014


This is quite naughty, but awesome at the same time! Here is a bootleg recording of Der Glöckner von Notre Dame with subtitles! Apparently an earlier version was taken down from YouTube, so who knows how long this is going to last. But for now, you can watch the whole show. ^_^


As the title implies, you are now in spoiler territory. If you plan to see The Hunchback of Notre Dame and you don't want the plot spoiled for you,

All good? Okay.

I'll just be randomly discussing elements of the plot and what I think of them. As I've mentioned in my earlier post, the show is not finished being tinkered with. There will still be changes before it hits New Jersey, and I daresay there will be even more changes after that.

Right from the beginning of the show, there is a major difference from previous versions. The "Bells of Notre Dame" song now details the life of Claude Frollo, and how he came to be Quasimodo's custodian. It begins with Claude and his brother Jehan. Now, Jehan was a character in the original novel, but his role was quite different. In this version, the two close brothers grow up together in Notre Dame with the intention of joining the clergy one day. Claude is studious and well-behaved, but Jehan has a bit of a wild side.

One night he brings a Gypsy girl back to their room. Claude is horrified! Not only a girl, but a Gypsy! His pristine conscience cannot abide this. When a priest hears noises and comes to investigate, Claude reveals the girl. This results in Jehan being expelled, and Claude does not see him for years.

The devout and pious Claude rises up the Catholic ranks until he becomes the Archdeacon of Notre Dame. One night he receives a letter from his brother. When he finds him, Jehan is on his deathbed. His Gypsy wife has died of the pox, and he will not be far behind. He only has one request: that Claude take his son and care for him. The baby is, of course, little misshapen Quasimodo. Claude tells Jehan that this baby is punishment for his sins.

Jehan dies and Claude whisks the baby away. Just as he is about to throw it into the river, he has a change of heart and decides to keep it locked away in the bell tower.

As you can see, immediately the character motivations in the story are entirely different. Quasimodo is actually Frollo's nephew. Frollo himself is not inherently evil like he was in the film. He is pious to a fault, but as he tells Quasimodo much later in the show, he genuinely loved his brother, and saw Quasimodo as his burden to bear for having Jehan expelled from Notre Dame.

When Phoebus comes to Paris, he is put in charge of cathedral security. This is an easy way to give him a similar relationship to Frollo, since he is no longer a judge. When Frollo approaches the French king for permission to arrest Esmeralda, he assigns his security staff (including Phoebus) to lead the hunt. Phoebus is reluctant about this, but Frollo tells him that it's the king's orders.

When Frollo sees Esmeralda dancing at the Festival of Fools, he is disgusted by her shamelessness but still finds himself somewhat intrigued. The two characters don't have the instant animosity they had in the previous versions. There is no shouting match across the town square. When Esmeralda enters Notre Dame, she doesn't do it to hide, she is merely trying to find Quasimodo to apologise to him. When Frollo sees her inside the church he is actually fairly polite. He calls her "my child" and tries to help her. Although he has no love for Gypsies, he sees something worth saving in her.

"Why can't you treat other people the way you would want to be treated yourself?" Esmeralda asks him. He is suddenly struck with a moment of clarity as he remembers Jesus saying almost the exact same thing. He offers to instruct her in the Gospels.

Later on, when she is up in the bell tower after Top of the World, Frollo finds her again and makes her an offer. She can stay in Notre Dame with him. You can almost see the excitement in Frollo's eyes. It is the first time he has had this kind of feeling for a woman before. And he is so self-righteous he sees her doing anything he says. So when she says, "I don't think that would be a good idea. I've seen the way you look at me," Frollo explodes with rage. "HOW DARE YOU!" he screams, and has Phoebus escort her out of the cathedral immediately.

Some nights later Phoebus and his friend Frederic visit a tavern and find Esmeralda dancing and singing with the other townsfolk. The soldier and the Gypsy share a passionate kiss, but she tells him she can't stay. Meanwhile Frollo, who has disguised himself and is wandering the streets to find Esmeralda, sees the whole thing.

Instead of a mill, it is a brothel that Frollo threatens to burn down.

The scene in the jail cell where Frollo comes to see Esmeralda after she has been captured is similar to the way it was in Berlin, but Frollo is much more vicious, grabbing at Esmeralda while she screams for help, calling him a demon. It's quite a disturbing scene, but in the end he uses Phoebus's life as leverage, just as he did in the Berlin version.

The way that the lead actor becomes Quasimodo is quite fantastic. As the opening song is reaching its conclusion, he enters from the back of the stage and sings, "What makes a monster and what makes a man?" The bundle that had been the baby is handed to him and he straps it on to his back. A shirt is laid over the top of his head, and he smears black lines across his face. Suddenly the actor has become the hunchback.

At the end of the show, after Esmeralda has died and Quasimodo steps out into the open, the ensemble approach him, draw black lines on their faces and contort their bodies into twisted forms as he faces the back and watches. All of a sudden he turns to face the audience and the marks on his face are magically gone! I got a big shock the first time I saw the show. On the second viewing I was watching for the trick. There's nothing complicated about it, but it's still a wonderful surprising effect.

I hope this hasn't spoiled the show for anyone, but I know there are some people out there who would love to know how the story now works.

Friday, November 28, 2014


Since this is essentially "Version 3" of Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame, there have once again been some pretty major changes to the soundtrack. I'll post the changes here, but be warned, there may be spoilers ahead!

Musically, much the same as it always has been, but the story within the song is now completely different. Instead of a Gypsy family being hunted down and a mother killed on the steps of the church, the show's opening now tells the story of Claude Frollo and his carefree brother Jehan. Frollo rises up the ranks of Notre Dame until he is Archdeacon, and he is eventually left to look after the misshapen baby whom he names Quasimodo.

The extended introduction to "Out There" that was written for Berlin is no longer in the show, although the "Sanctuary" melody and theme appears throughout the story.

One of the only songs that has gone mostly unchanged throughout all versions.

Esmeralda is no longer a newcomer to Paris, and so this introduction to the Gypsy lifestyle is no longer in the show.

The ongoing "Hurry Hurry" melody from the Berlin version is gone, and we now jump straight into the song like in the movie. Interestingly though, there are two other songs WITHIN "Topsy Turvy..."

Instead of taking up a separate scene, Phoebus and his friend Frederic come to Paris during the Festival of Fools and he sings his song after "Topsy Turvy" has already started.

A brand new song which introduces the character of Esmeralda. (This is the first time she's seen in the show) She sings the song as she does her exotic dance at the festival. It's not a particularly memorable tune, but I like the way the song works.

It's much the same as the movie version. While Quasimodo is definitely on the stage watching Esmeralda sing, he no longer harmonizes with her, which is a bit of a shame.

The main melody is mostly the same, although there have been some lyric changes. The counter-melody though, which was written to be sung by the three gargoyles, is now quite different, since those characters no longer exist.

This is actually a brand new scene, obviously set in a tavern. The Gypsies party hard through the night, and when Phoebus and Frederic come inside, the captain is quite happy to see Esmeralda there. Meanwhile, Frollo is secretly watching from a distance. This is a great rollicking pub song with a catchy and exotic sounding melody. This is my favourite of the new songs.

Mostly the same as before. Sadly, the incredibly lifting key-change in Berlin's version of "Hellfire" has been removed. Whether that is because of Patrick Page's vocal range, I'm not sure. I was disappointed though. It must be said, Page absolutely OWNS the song.

Mostly hits the same points as it did in Berlin, although some of the sections have been re-ordered or left out. In the second half of the song, it changes from "Hunt down the Gypsy Esmeralda" to "Hunt down the Gypsy and the soldier." I dunno, for some reason it doesn't seem as powerful as it used to. It also doesn't end on a major chord like before, strangely. Instead, its ending is pretty much identical to "Bells of Notre Dame."

A chance for the choir to take centre-stage. Beautiful harmonies!

Since this was an ensemble number that didn't feature any of the main cast, it was removed. I did like the way it set up Act II, and I would like to see it come back in future productions.

No surprises here. It always was pretty ill-fitting, but since the three gargoyle characters are no longer part of the story, their song has been deleted with them.
This is a weird one. It essentially takes the place of "A Guy Like You," but instead of Quasimodo being encouraged by his gargoyle friends, he is encouraged by the ghost of Saint Aphrodisius, who has unfortunately lost his head. There are some clever laugh-out-loud gags in this song, but I really wonder how relevant it is to the story. I think "City Under Siege," while much more serious, would be a better Act II opener. The song itself isn't too bad. The chord structure and harmonies remind me quite a bit of Menken's work in another show, King David.

Shame! "Out of Love" was one of my favourites of the songs introduced in Der Glöckner. With the change in character motivation (Phoebus and Quasimodo are essentially arguing over which one of them will save Esmeralda first) there's no longer any reason for Phoebus to convince Quasimodo to leave the bell tower. Instead, he sings a reprise of "Rest and Recreation." I like the way the new scene works, but I do miss the song. A part of it still lives on a little bit. The "In my life I've seen some things - cruelty and heartlessness" verse that Esmeralda sings earlier in the show is still there.

Now this is interesting! The song that they removed for Berlin, has made it back in! While most of the lyrics are the same (or similar) to the movie version, the melody is actually quite different, almost re-written from scratch, so although it's an old song, it does feel new. No more big Gypsy dance here.

My least-favourite of the new songs. It literally takes the place of the "Out of Love" reprise, and follows the exact same beats: Esmeralda and Phoebus declare their love while Quasimodo watches on and sadly sings a reprise of "Heaven's Light." Something about this song just strikes me as ill-fitting. Perhaps its the almost-pop-like rhythm of the chorus, perhaps it's the fact that to fit the song, "Heaven's Light" has to be sung quite fast. I don't know. I hope it gets replaced (or "Out of Love" gets reinstated) in future versions.

Mostly the same as it was in Berlin. Esmeralda and Phoebus sing it while they wait in the jail cell.

Apart from some lyric changes (since the three specific gargoyles no longer exist) it's mostly arrived intact. The impressive soft-to-loud High-C ending note is now a full belt.

Again, mostly the same as Berlin, with bits and pieces changed here and there. The song elements are more or less the same.