Amy Child and Ana Balanici
The long-awaited Nottingham Operatic Society production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame has finally arrived, after its rescheduling in 2021. A product of the Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, with a cast of over 50 performers and a wonderful orchestra, this adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel is a hard-hitting story of deceiving appearances, prejudice and humanity. Impact’s Amy Child and Ana Balanici review.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a Disney-musical turned stage-musical, which tells the powerful story of the kind-hearted hunchback Quasimodo, the righteous but corrupt churchman Frollo, and the spirited Esmeralda. The question it asks throughout is simple yet evocative: ‘what makes a monster and what makes a man?’
The portrayal of the story’s villain, Frollo, was immaculate
Firstly, the highlight of this show was undoubtedly the music. Every song was brilliantly performed and the singing and orchestra were equally outstanding. The main cast members gave stunning solos, and I particularly have to applaud Esmeralda for God Help the Outcasts, Quasimodo for Out There, and Frollo for Hellfire, my personal favourite song in the show.
The acting generally was good, though not quite at the level of the singing. It was somewhat melodramatic, which took time to adjust to but ultimately worked really well. Critically, the portrayal of the story’s villain, Frollo, was immaculate. The actor brought a fearsome dignity to the role whilst capturing Frollo’s complexity with impressive nuance. His powerful stage presence meant that he owned every scene he was in.
The actress playing Esmeralda gave a similarly stunning performance; her energy whilst dancing and her emotion whilst singing were some of the main strengths of the show. I also loved how the cast worked with a real sense of unity in some of the more physical scenes (shoutout to the gargoyles) and thought that the relationships between characters were portrayed amazingly.
I felt like I could really see the cathedral and the streets of Paris in which the story takes place
The onstage world had incredible atmosphere thanks to the beautiful set, props and costumes. I felt like I could really see the cathedral and the streets of Paris in which the story takes place, and the big cast brought the stage alive. The way that perspective was created when characters look down over the city was also really clever and effective.
On the whole, this was a fantastic rendition of a poignant, beloved story, packed with emotional punch. If you’re a fan of the Disney film, or musicals in general, the Nottingham Operatic Society’s Hunchback is a must-see.
Amy Child & Ana Balanici
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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