With COVID restrictions lifting, many have started to return to local theatres for plays and musicals, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame from Windsor’s Cardinal Music Productions, currently performing weekends at Kordazone Theatre until March 13.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a musical play based on the 1831 novel of the same name written by Victor Hugo, with songs from the 1996 Walt Disney Animation Studios film adaptation. With a stellar cast and a fancy set, Cardinal’s troupe return to full throttle theatre with a bang. The Hunchback is emotional and inspiring, so the cast have a plethora of great material to draw from.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame showcases the Disney film’s Academy Award-nominated score, as well as some new songs. It tells the story of Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bell-ringer of Notre Dame, and his desire to one day be a part of the outside world. When he summons the courage to attend the Feast of Fools, he meets Esmeralda, a compassionate gypsy who protects him from an angry mob. But at the same time, Quasimodo’s master, the archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, and the new captain of the guard, Phoebus de Martin, fall in love with the beautiful girl.
It’s probably the darkest of all Disney tales and doesn’t stray anywhere near the usual Happy-Ever-After fable of Disney musicals long ago. It is, however, a deeply emotional tale of turmoil, corruption and discrimination. The musical numbers are big and bold, including a striking version of God Help The Outcasts performed by Amelia Daigle as Esmeralda midway through the first act.
Right from the opening notes of The Bells of Notre Dame, it is clear that this is a powerful performance. The church congregation belt out such massive voices that the sound engulfs the entire building. The music is key in this show and it takes strong voices to successfully pull it off. After two years of waiting, the 16-member cast live up to all expectations, including some newer faces we may not have seen.
The absolute “master” of this show is Aaron Bergeron, who gives Quasimodo a certain bashful charm, similar to another Disney favourite from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He plays off his unscrupulous master Dom Claude Frollo, magnificently performed by long-time theatre man Joe Cardinal.
The majority of the cast have multiple roles as gargoyles, gypsies and soldiers and albeit required a lot of coordination and timing to flow.
And if a near perfect execution of a tough Disney show wasn’t enough, on opening night, the audio system stopped working at the end of the first act. As consummate professionals, the cast performed the closing part of the big musical number Esmeralda Act 1 Finale completely A cappella.
The Hunchback was never my favourite Disney show, but after such a heartfelt performance, it’s gone a lot higher up in my list than ever before, sitting at the Top Of The World.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame runs at The Kordazone Theatre March 4 to 6 and 11 to 13 with Friday and Saturday evening shows at 8pm and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Tickets are $30, available at Cardinal Music (2569-B Jefferson Blvd in Windsor or by calling 519-944-5800. For more information on Cardinal Music Productions, visit: cardinalmusicproductions.com.
AARON BERGERON as Quasimodo
JOE CARDINAL as Dom Claude Frollo
AMELIA DAIGLE as Esmeralda
BRANDON PRESLEY as Captain Phoebus De Martin
MELISSA MILLS as Clopin Trouillefou, Gargoyle, Congregant
BREANNAH DESCHAINE as Florika, Gargoyle, Congregant
ALEX ALEJANDRIA as Jehan Frollo, Gargoyle, Congregant, Soldier
DREW BEAUDOIN as Saint Aphrodisius, Gargoyle, Congregant, Soldier, Official
GREG GEORGE as Father Dupin, King Louis XI, Gargoyle, Congregant, Soldier
ABBEY LEE HALLETT as Frederic Charlus, Congregant, Gypsy
DARIEN PARE as Gargoyle, Congregant, Gypsy
BAYLEIGH McLELLAND as Gargoyle, Congregant, Gypsy
JESSIE GURNIAK as Gargoyle, Congregant, Gypsy
CHEYENNE GAUTHIER as Madame, Congregant, Gypsy
JULES WALTON as Congregant, Gypsy
MICHELLE WHALEY as Congregant, Gypsy