By David Walters
I think I’ll call it a musical spectacle. It’s something I have not seen before of this magnitude and is live now at the Lincoln Center David H. Koch Theater only until July 16, performed in French with English subtitles.
Victor Hugo’s novel, of the same name, is a historical treatise on 15th-century medieval Paris (when they locked the city gates at night) about its buildings, its bridges, and the inhabitants of the city from the homeless, the working class, and the clergy, to reigning kings. If you only know of the story through movies (any of the Hunchback movies), you don’t really know the novel as it is really too large to fit either the film or theatrical format.
In this musical spectacle, Luc Plamondon (author) and Richard Cocciante (composer), have concentrated on the love/lust quatro between Phoebus (Jeremy Amelin), a captain of the king’s guard charged with city safety, Frollo (Daniel Lavoie), the archdeacon of Notre Dame, and Quasimodo (Angelo Del Vecchio), a lame and partially blind hunchback who was raised by Frollo and is the bell ringer for the cathedral. They all have fallen in love with Esmeralda, a beautiful young immigrant who sings and dances in the square in front of Notre Dame.
The plot of Notre Dame de Paris delves into the overwhelming power of the three men’s love for Esmeralda, how it torments them and drives them to things they normally wouldn’t do, as well as Esmeralda’s misguided love that leads to her death.
Each of the performers is a headliner in their own right with powerful voices lifted in song that extoll the extent of the depth and height of emotion that can be vocally produced. Man can they sing.
Each of the other elements of production needs to be highlighted as well: The set is a cathedral in its magnitude allowing movement and action to reach the top of the proscenium and still be intimate. The music is both classical and pop-rock which not only furthers the story but is filled with the symmetry of poetry and deep emotional imagery. The choreography is awe-inspiring in its physicality, which punctuates and mirrors the internal emotions and conflicts of the actors. The lighting creates magnificent paintings of place and character, accentuating both movement and stillness. The costumes are fluid, not only delineating character but allowing the flow of individuality to come through.
You’re going to see something huge, in story, in music, in vision, in movement, and in vocal talent that will stay with you for a long time.
Notre Dame de Paris
Creative team: Luc Plamondon (author), Richard Cocciante (composer), Gilles Maheu (director), Martino Muller (choreographer), Christian Ratz (Set Design), Caroline Van Assche (Costume Design), Alain Lortie (Lighting Design), Sebastien Quinet (Hair Design), Serge Perathoner & Jannick Top (Arrangements & Musical Direction).
Acrobats: Jonathan Gajdane, Nathan Jones, Andrea Neyroz, Arek Szynal, and Ivan Urbano.
Breakdancers: Alex Besnier and Tiger.
Dance Ensemble: Lorenzo Arnouts, Antonio Balsamo, Giulia Barbone, Marina Barbone, Wilfried Bernard, Alessandra Berti, Rodolphe Duquesne, Giuseppe Marino, Gabriel Nabo, Alessia Papale, Sonia Picone, Valentin Piers, Anaïs Replumaz, Ivan Trimarchi, Vaïa Venetis, and Roberta Zegretti.
Tickets can be bought here. They do have rush tickets available.
As always, this is just one person’s opinion in a world filled with them.