Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Theatre Gets Rights to Perform 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Theatre Gets Rights to Perform 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'

Article excerpt

For the first time in its history, Topeka Civic Theatre and Academy opened its winter main stage production of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

"We're the first community theater in the nation to be granted the license for this show," said director Shannon Reilly. "We were struggling trying to find a good Christmas show, the one we wanted became unavailable at the last minute, we weren't able to get it, and out of the blue I was contacted by Music Theatre International and they said, 'How would you guys like to be the first ones to do 'Hunchback?' and we were elated."

The show debuted Friday night, and runs through Dec. 23.

The music leans heavily on church hymns, choral music and Latin, telling much the same story as the 1996 Disney rendition, but with a few darker twists. The musical is reverted back to the original tale by Victor Hugo, with additional songs by Alan Menken.

The strength of this show is apparent not only in its leading cast, but the ensemble, and as Reilly described, Menken's use of lyrics to make up the script. The opening set is an empty Notre Dame Cathedral, with only the stained-glass window casting light onto the stage and the three large bells hanging overhead as the fixed props.

"What I found in this particular show is I had some of the best of the best singers audition," Reilly said. "It's funny, because every now and then there's a show that really excites the acting populace, and this was it. I had some of the best showing up for the acting auditions, and one after another they were just absolutely amazing."

The main rolls of Dom Claude Frollo were filled by Adam Groves, Esmeralda by Ashley Young and Quasimodo by Danny Lassley.

All three are veterans at TCT, and have had major roles in the past. Lassley was previously Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables," with co-star Fantine, played by Young. Groves recently returned to TCT after about 10 years in New York, Reilly said, and previously performed in the local theater's production of West Side Story. …

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