BWW Review: THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME at Idaho Shakespeare Theater
Idaho Shakespeare Theater opened their musical production this weekend with "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Many of us are either familiar with the Victor Hugo novel as we were forced to read it in school or with the 1996 Disney animated film. This adaptation is the perfect combination of the two, combined with new music from Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menkin.
I saw the show on Saturday night, and was honored to be a part of the sold out opening. It's now Monday afternoon and I am still struggling to wrap my brain around this amazing show and just pick out a few things to tell you about. Should I tell you about the amazing cast and the fantastic opportunity for some of our local talent, the costume design by Martha Bromelmeier, the simple but on point choreography from Jaclyn Miller, the set, the lights, or the ISF staff and volunteers that make the experience fun and enjoyable? I could write a different article on each of these elements, but here I will focus on just three.
From soloists to the full cast including a sixteen voice community choir, HUNCHBACK was full of amazing voices. Being a vocal coach and singer myself, I am admittedly judgmental when it comes to this topic. I was thrilled to see how Corey Mach portrayed Quasimodo. I am familiar with his Broadway Sings performances and was fascinated to witness how he pulled off the half-deaf hunchback. He was amazing. The familiar song "Out There" was brilliant and the range of his voice was key in this role, and the song Made of Stone. Also, Alex Syiek as Clopin Trouillefou was perfect in this gypsy king character. The moments he broke the fourth wall to speak to us were on spot and strong. The sixteen voice community choir made a huge impact in the moments where the sound would have echoed in the cathedral and through the town. Plus, there was a very high soprano voice in the main cast was gorgeous, strong and clear that unfortunately I cannot name.
The new songs from Menkin and Schwartz:
Alan Menkin's compositions are the foundation of this production. Any Disney fan has heard the memorable melodies he has written for Pocahontas, Newsies, The Little Mermaid and countless other shows. Lyricist Stephen Schwartz may not be as well know with the Disney crowd, however he is very popular to us theatergoers. Most of us know him from Wicked, but Mr. Schwartz's lyrics combined with the beautiful Menkin melodies for HUNCHBACK are just as wonderful. Aside from the more well known numbers such as "God Help the Outcast" and "Topsy Turvy", a moving duet between Esmerelda and Phoebus entitled "Someday" is a wonderful addition to the show.
I was not able to meet the director Victoria Bussert, but I did have the pleasure of being able to watch her during the show. I would glance her way at certain moments of the performance to see her face. Witnessing her emotions as her creation came to life before us may have been one of my favorite parts of the show. The way she beamed at the end of a big group piece, or the pride she showed in the small beautiful moments were a pleasure to see. I love that she ended the show more towards the novel's end after Menkin's poignant lyrics, "Someday life will be kinder."
Please don't miss this show and don't forget the tissues.
Running various dates through Friday, Sept. 1, ISF Amphitheater, 5657 Warm Springs Ave., Boise.Wednesdays-Saturdays. $22-$50 adults, $13 children 6-17 on Family night only. Students with valid ID are $20 any show.