Hunchback of Notre Dame Musical Debuts to Critical Acclaim

NaBloPoMo DAY 13:


Michael Arden (center) as Quasimodo is excellent, capturing the nuances of this outcast hero. Here he is with some of the cast of La Jolla Playhouse’s U.S. premiere production. All photos by Kevin Berne, courtesy of the La Jolla Playhouse.


Guess who was spotted at the La Jolla Playhouse for the opening night performance of the new, exhilarating, out-of-this-world musical, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”–the one I predict to be bound for Broadway??

Why, yours truly, of course!


Patrick Page (center) as Dom Claude Frollo is spellbinding and completely sinister.

It’s not everyday I get to go to the opening night of anything. In fact, the 12th of Never was probably the last time this happened.

But ooh, la la, what fun it was! Adapted from the Disney animated film of “Hunchback,” but staying truer to the Victor Hugo story, the play featured the songs from the original film and added new ones from Alan Menken, composer (who also wrote music for Disney’s “The Little Mermaid), and Stephen Schwartz, lyricist.

All in all, a much darker, more brooding production than the Disney film ,and the fact that Disney approved these changes is a testament to their willingness to push the envelope. For, the stirring music–which included some show-stopping tunes–the costumes, the dialogue–and the acting–all worked cohesively, creating a musical infused with vitality and emotion, reminiscent of the ever popular musical, “Le Miserable.”

Even the magnificent set design captured the rafters of Notre Dame, complete with bells and singing “gargoyles.”

In my “Ace Reporter” role, earlier this fall, I was able to interview Michael Arden, the star of the show. Playing the role of Quasimodo has been a dream come true for Arden, who just directed “Spring Awakenings” for the deaf community in Los Angeles. You can read more of my interview with Arden by clicking here.

I give it two thumbs up! Not to be missed!!  Performances run through December 14th at the La Jolla Playhouse. After that, the show moves to the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey. After that, dare I say it–Broadway?

Ciara Renee (center) as Esmeralda.

Ciara Renee (center) is striking and spot on as Esmeralda.


Note: This month, I’m taking part in NaBloPoMo. Thirty days, 30 posts.  

EXCITING NEWS! I’ve decided to see a psychic so maybe so maybe I can find out why I committed myself to such a highfalutin challenge!

And whether or not I succeed, I’m awarding a prize to the one person who has commented on the most posts this month. If there’s a tie, I’ll do a drawing.  So if you want to win, make sure to leave a comment!

So, will I make it to the end of the month or will I crack under the pressure? Stay tuned to find out!



13 thoughts on “Hunchback of Notre Dame Musical Debuts to Critical Acclaim

  1. That’s a might colorful stage. Naturally, I’m drawn to that sorta thing. Nothing else for you but to have a ball with a magical night of singing and all them whatnots.

    I think that psychic’s gonna tell you to not bother with this next year and have you pass the message along to Totsy.

    • Lol, you so crack me up. We have to go out for coffee sometime or maybe Mojitos which are my favorite drink these days. How did we get in this mess, anyway? Are we crazy? Yeah that psychic is knocking us on the side of the head saying, “What were you thinking??” Man oh man. Two more weeks, that’s all. Sigh.

  2. Gosh, I miss musical theater. My father was a huge fan and took us to a number of Broadway productions. Hope this one makes it there, as you predict. Congrats with the commitment so far! I predict you will NOT cave under the pressure.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Sounds like your father had good taste. Young people today don’t go to the theater as much as we once did. Growing up in New York, so close to Broadway, I saw many shows growing up. Since my daughter was three I’ve taken her to see many a play. In fact, she keeps her Playbills and a couple of years ago we started counting them. She had close to 100! We just LOVE the theater!

  3. Along with your clear enthusiasm for the play and your line “Adapted from the Disney animated film of “Hunchback,” but staying truer to the Victor Hugo story,…” you inspire me to visualize it. I know what we’ll be renting this weekend. Clearly, I have no worries about you writing throughout the month of November as you rival a virtuoso in the array of writing you are producing. Thank you. Reading you daily is a treat.

    • It was terrific. I’m hoping they release a CD of it, because I’d love to listen to the music again. It was a triumph!
      Thank you so much for your continued encouragement, and don’t think I haven’t noticed how faithful you’ve been with your comments. I’m going to start tallying up soon, so as not to wait until the last minute!

  4. Esmeralda is stunning and I wish I could have seen Quasimodo in action, Monica. I would love to spend an evening at the theatre.
    I love Alan Menken’s music, how wonderful that you got to experience it. The film version was a favorite of mine.
    Shall go read your interview. The posting is going well. I’m loving it.

    My friend and I took our older girls to see a local production of Driving Miss Daisy recently and they loved it. I had a friend in the play. It was just the perfect afternoon.
    We’re going to see the The Wizard of Oz in December.

  5. That looks an excellent evening Monica. You can’t beat live theatre and live productions generally.

    As for seeing a psychic Monica. Here is a true story…..
    In the UK at the seaside you often see fortune tellers etc. Well many years ago we went to a resort called Skegness (You can look it up if desperate).
    As we went from the car park to the main street we passed a fortune tellers booth and on it was a sign which said CLOSED DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES.

    It made me chuckle all day…..

  6. It looks like an amazing production! It’s got to be better than the animation and it’s good to hear they are moving toward Hugo’s original. Yes I think you’ll make it through the month – especially with this kind of event to sprinkle through your blogging!

    • Making it to the end of the month seems daunting as I still have to get through Thanksgiving while fulfilling my family obligations (ie, spending time with them). Ack! How will I do it all??

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