“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is based on the novel by Victor Hugo, and songs from the Disney film set, with music by Alan Menkin and Stephen Schwartz  and the book for the musical written by Peter Parnell. It is one of the Slow Burn Theatre Company’s largest physical productions and consists of a cast of 15 plus a choir of 18.

On the surface the story is about three men who fall in love with a Gypsy woman while the underlying stories are about being different, unwanted immigrants, religious faith and conflicts along with the differences between a man, a monster and a hero.

Quasimodo (Bobby Cassell) is a hunchback who rings the bells in the church ofNotre Dame which have made him partially deaf, lives in isolation and refers to his uncle as “Master’, the latter having promised his brother upon his death to take care of the child. Quasimodo falls in love with Esmeralda one afternoon when he leaves the sanctuary of the church to take part in the Festival of Fools and is elected as the Pope of Fools ‘winning’ a contest for being the ugliest fool in Paris. Later when he is being beaten by the townspeople she is the only one to give him water when he begs for it and he falls in love with her for the very rare kindness she shows him.

The uncle, Frollo, (Matthew Korinko) is the Archdeacon of Norte Dame, tortured by his lust for power and, upon seeing Esmeralda, his lust for her, betraying his own faith and setting off a chain of events that will effect everyone.

The third man is Captain Phoebus (Landon Summers) who saves Esmeralda from being abducted and becomes intrigued with her as she becomes infatuated for him.

Esmeralda (Shenise Nunez) is a Gypsy street dancer filled with fire and passion who is use to the attention of men and sees herself as their equal and demands respect from them.

Another main character is Clopin (Trev Whittaker) who aside from narrating the story is also the King of the Gypsies and is a standout of the cast.

The use of a choir of 18 singers is both a blessing and a curse. They make many of the songs soar but at the same time, in many cases, they drown out cast members when they sing along or behind them.

The 8 piece band, led by Caryl Fantel, does a good job of the score by Menkenand Schwartz while the production staff, from the scenic design by SeanMcClelland, the costume design by Rick Pena along with the lighting design by Becky Montero, add to this production.

The main problem with “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is not anything done by the Slow Burn Theatre Company but by the almost impossible task Peter Parnell had of condensing the Victor Hugo novel of over 900 pages to a book for a 2 hour 10 minute musical. It just doesn’t work though it makes for an interesting time in the theatre.

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