THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Stadium Theatre’s current musical extravaganza is “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, a new musical which debuted at the La Jolla Playhouse in California in October, 2014. Then in March, 2015 it played at Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey. Both theatres have had shows transferred to Broadway. Unfortunately this musical did not make it and why is a complete mystery to me. This version is based on the Victor Hugo 1831 novel which was transformed by Disney into an animated film in 1996. This version has music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Peter Parnell. However this is not the usual happy musical from Disney where everyone lives happily ever after. The songs from the Disney film “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” are powerful and potent and the tale dark and Gothic but still it is an entrancing and enticing musical to see and savor. Director Becca Donald and musical director Mark Colozzi pick the best performers for these roles and infuse them with high energy all night long. Mark plays lead keyboards and conducts a fabulous 9 piece orchestra and obtains awesome harmonies from the cast. Choreographer Matt Parello supplies some upbeat dances to lighten up the show in some of the gypsy sequences. Their expertise wins a very well deserved spontaneous standing ovation at the close of the performance.

 

The storyline is a deformed man, Quasimodo is hidden from the world by his devious caretaker and longingly observes all of Paris from atop a bell tower. However during the Feast of the Fools, he escapes for the day to join the crowd, discovering both the cruelty and compassion of strangers and new friends he must defend from a familiar evil. Becca blocks this huge epic musical splendidly on a fantastic two story cathedral style set by Wayne Boucher. She brings every ounce of pathos pouring out to the very appreciative audience. The multitude of gorgeous costumes are by Eve Lajoie, Gina Giuliano, Linda McDermott, Dean Hernandez and Caroline Tillinghast . Jack Cappadona does a magnificent job as Quasimodo, the poor tormented creature whose only friends are the gargoyles of Notre Dame. He captures the pathos of this character perfectly and acts his heart out in this role. Jack’s voice is so powerful as he renders the hopeful “Out There” where he yearns to be like other people, “Heaven’s Light” and the 11th hour show stopping song “Made of Stone” which is despairing but all are fabulously sung by this young man who should be a professional performer after seeing him in this performance. Hannah Duhamel also shines as Esmeralda, the gypsy who captures Quasimodo’s heart. She is a gorgeous brunette with a beautiful voice which is heard with the chorus in “God Help the Outcasts” and in “Someday”, a duet with Phoebus where people should learn to live with each other peacefully after facing prejudice against the gypsies. Hannah also sings the poignant “Top of the World” song with Jack when he brings her to the bell tower.

 

Powerful vocalist Cooper Ceruolo plays the Captain of the guard, Phoebus who falls in love with Esmeralda. His voice is heard in “Rest and Recreation” and “The Court of Miracles.” I last reviewed him as Chris in “Miss Saigon” at the Stadium. John McElroy Morgan as Frollo, the pious archdeacon who lusts after Esmeralda and becomes more depraved. He is terrific as this pious but bigoted man whose hate for the gypsies overpowers his religious nature and he also treats his nephew, Quasimodo with disdain due to his father’s assignation with a gypsy girl. When Frollo meets Esmeralda, his dark side comes out. John is onstage almost the whole musical. His powerful voice is heard in “Hellfire” with the choir. He sends chills up your spine with this bloodthirsty song and his malevolent character. The chorus and congregation vocalists are incredible and their voices soar in the group numbers especially in “The Bells of Notre Dame”, the Latin songs, “Justice in Paris” and “While the City Slumbered.”  Mark does a magnificent job with the soaring, beautiful harmonies of these numbers. So for a splendid new epic musical, be sure to catch “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at the Stadium Theatre before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (20 to 22 October)

Stadium Theatre, 28 Monument Square, Woonsocket, RI

NSMT’s EVITA is Magnificent

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

North Shore Music Theatre’s fourth musical of their 62nd season is “Evita” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. This rock opera is about Eva Peron, bit actress, mistress and wife to Argentine dictator, Juan Peron. This show is a collage of Eva’s rise to power and her early death. It is a look at a woman loved by the poor, hated by the rich and powerful and who was not above taking matters into her capable hands, whether it be charity funds, colonels on the rise to political power or, finally, political power itself.

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Huntington’s “Merrily We Roll Along” A Winner

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Huntington Theatre’s opening show of their season is “Merrily We Roll Along” Stephen Sondheim’s, musical of friendship and ambition. It is based on the 1934 play with the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. “Merrily We Roll Along” has a book by George Furth that opens in 1976 and travels back in time to tell the story of Franklin Shepherd, a successful Broadway composer who leaves his theatre and songwriting career behind him to become a Hollywood movie producer.

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I HATE MUSICALS, THE MUSICAL (Ivoryton Playhouse)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Ivoryton Playhouse’s latest musical is the world premiere of “I Hate Musicals.” “I Hate Musicals” features a script by Mike Reiss and new music by Walter Murphy who wrote the classic 1970’s song “A Fifth of Beethoven” which was used in “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack. Mike Reiss, who hails from Bristol, Connecticut and won an Emmy for the Simpsons creates a masterful script that leaves you laughing in the aisles.

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Lyric, Barrett Open Season With Winning “Gypsy”

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Gypsy’ – Music by Jules Styne, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Arthur Laurents. Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Bertone; Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez; Scenic Design by Janie E. Howland; Costume Design by Rafael Jaen; Lighting Design by Franklin Meissner, Jr. ; Sound Design by Andrew Duncan Will. Presented by Lyric Stage Company at 140 Clarendon St. through October 8.

The Lyric Stage opens its 2017-2018 season with a bang, tackling the (stage) mother of all musicals, Gypsy – widely regarded as one of musical theater’s greatest works – and delivering one of the year’s best musical productions. Fueled by a powerhouse performance by Boston favorite Leigh Barrett, Gypsy paints the seriocomic portrait of Rose Hovick, the fame-seeking mother of renowned Depression-era exotic dancer Gypsy Rose Lee, who wisecracked (and stripped) her way into the hearts of adoring burlesque house audiences across the nation.

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“DAMES AT SEA” at Greater Boston Stage

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Greater Boston Stage Company, formerly Stoneham Theatre, newest show is “Dames At Sea”, a musical spoof of “42nd Street”, “Anything Goes” and “Singing in the Rain.” It is a musical with books and lyrics by George Haimshon and Robin Miller with music by Jim Wise. It’s a parody of 1930’s Busby Berkeley-style movie musicals in which a chorus girl gets off a bus from Utah to NYC, steps into a role on Broadway and becomes a star.

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“GYPSY” at Lyric Stage

 

by Tony Annicone

 

Lyric Stage Company’s opening show of their season is the hit 1959 musical “Gypsy” with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents. This musical is loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of famous striptease artist, Gypsy Rose Lee. It is the biography of Gypsy and her mother, Rose and is the classic musical fable of the definitive stage mother, Momma Rose. It follows the daughter’s life from her early days in vaudeville with her younger sister, June Havoc, to her successful career in burlesque.

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NSMT’s ‘YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN’ a Monstrously Riotous Musical Comedy

By Sheila Barth

BOX INFO: Two act musical comedy by Mel Brooks, appearing through August 27, at Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Road, Beverly: Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, 8 p.m.; Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, 2 p.m. $57-$82. Kids ages 18-under, 50 percent off at all performances. 978-232-7200, nsmt.org.

 

A four-sided scrim bearing a large, foreboding, black and white image of a horror film-style castle on the hill greets theatergoers as they face North Shore Music Theater’s stage. Eerie sounds echo in surround-sound, while gusts of stage fog spurt around them, temporarily obfuscating their view. Chains rattle.  An ominous buzz saw whirrs. Voices groan, moan, howl, in the distance, while ancient-style lanterns set  intaglio in archways adorn the background of the theater-in-the-round. Cacophony abounds. Like an olden-style, black-and-white horror movie, the scrim beams a movie company logo, and announces the film, its stars, producers, directors, etc., then transforms live, in color, to a European village.

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“THE PRODUCERS” Theatre by the Sea, Matunuck, RI

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The closing show of the 84th season of Theatre by the Sea is the Broadway sensation “The Producers” which is based on the Mel Brooks Academy Award winning 1968 film. This bawdy musical is the story of down on his luck theatrical producer, Max Bialystock and a mousy accountant, Leo Bloom. Their “sure fire” theatrical fiasco is none other than the musical “Springtime for Hitler” written by neo-Nazi, Franz Liebkind, an ex-Nazi storm trooper which tells of the rise of Hitler to power in song and dance.

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“YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN”

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Welcome to the wild and crazy world of Mel Brooks at the North Shore Music Theatre. Their summer blockbuster hit musical is “Young Frankenstein” with no expense spared by owner and producer Bill Hanney to bring it to this 62 year old gem of a theatre. This hysterically funny musical is an inspired retelling of the Frankenstein legend based on Mel Brooks’s 1974 classic comedy movie masterpiece.

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