Notre-Dame de Paris is a novel published in 1831 and written by famous author Victor Hugo. As it became popular throughout the world, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME became a beloved Disney story which later became a stage production. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz added new music to be included in this production. The Playhouse San Antonio was privileged to present the Texas premiere to a full theater. And the audience was very impressed.
As you enter The Russell Hill Rogers Theater at The Playhouse San Antonio, the first thing you notice is the massiveness of the spectacular set. Set Designer Nicholas Ponting is known for his over-the-top set designs and he did not disappoint at this production of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. And judging from the audience’s comments before curtain time, everyone was equally impressed with the design. Not a single detail was missed. From the stained-glass windows to the gargoyles and statues to the bells and the nuances of the cathedral of Notre Dame, Ponting captured the entire feel of the setting of the life of a lonely Quasimodo.
Having said that, we need to focus as well on the actors themselves and the talent that was just exquisite. This production of THE HUNCHBACK OF NORTE DAME was the Texas premiere and it was evident that The Playhouse did not want to skimp on the talent. First and foremost, we need to mention the enormous talent of Nick Szoeke in his portrayal as the Hunchback himself, Quasimodo. Szoeke’s raw talent and attention to every detail made him a perfect choice for the part. From the slowness of his walk, dragging his feet and his leaning over as if crippled from this birth defect, Szoeke helped you to feel real compassion and care for Quasimodo and his lot in life. But, as Szoeke opened his mouth to sing such solos as "Out There" and "Heaven’s Light," the richness of his voice shined through. His years of performing really proved to be a great asset for Szoeke. He alone is a great reason to be able to enjoy this wonderful production of THE HUNCHBACK OF NORTE DAME.
However, there were other equally talented members of this amazing cast as well. Alyssa Lopez played the part of Esmeralda and shared her talents onstage. Seen in such past productions as WEST SIDE STORY (as Anita) and JEKYLL & HYDE (as Lucy), Lopez was a strong choice for the outcast gypsy girl who befriends the outcast hunchback boy. She has a strong voice and owned the stage with such songs as "God Help the Outcasts" and "Bells of Notre Dame."
In addition to the two lead roles, many of the supporting actors were strong and the choir was most amazing as well. Sean Salazar played gypsy friend Clopin and was a very strong support to the main characters. Of particular interest, Salazar sharEd Strong support in the songs, "Topsy Turvy" and "The Court of Miracles." Bob Galindo played the riveting antagonist Frollo so well that the audience even booed Galindo during the curtain call. That aside, Galindo’s voice was a great addition to a wonderful cast as he sang, "Hellfire" and "Esmeralda." And the part of Captain Pheobus was played by Quinn Johnson and played a strong love interest of Esmeralda and captain of the guard. And we can’t forget the Choir and Company who played important supporting roles. To say the songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz were intricate is an understatement. Because of the difficulty of the score, it makes it even more impressive to see how this cast pulled it off.
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME at The Russell Rogers Theater at The Playhouse San Antonio is not one to be missed as it plays from September 15-October 15, 2017 on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets can be purchased at The Playhouse San Antonio website. You don’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind production.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dan Baumer