Seriously you’d have to be in Seine to miss this terrifically high class. moving, dark and yet uplifting, dramatically electric amateur production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame currently showing 3-7 May at Loughborough Town Hall presented by the super talented local Christchurch Theatre Club plus an exemplary collection of vocally gifted members of local choirs. The musical may not be as well known as some but it sure rings all the right bells in terms of a brilliant night of musical theatre.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame musical has a sweeping score and a powerful story meaning that you’ll get swept away on a tide of emotion by the magic of this unforgettable show. ‘Hunchback’ showcases themes such as faith, power, disability, discrimination, isolation and sacrifice offering powerful messages of acceptance, surely very relevant to our lives today.
The fabulously performed lead characters are Quasimodo (Craig Butterworth), Esmeralda (Holly Easter), Dom Claude Frollo (David Burton), Phoebus de Martin (Ash Bright) and Clopin Trouillefou (Rowan Dixon). Frederic Charlus is played by Jarrod Makin and Madame by Liz Berrisford. The narration and other parts are performed by various storytellers, Jack Hardy, Aaron Murray, Anita Benson, Carl Unwin, Jordan Cope, Laura Moore, Lucy Banks, Lucy Brown. As the stone characters that Quasimodo talks with, the narrators performing them add some levity and humour to the piece. The congregation and choir are comprised of sixteen talented local performers whose vocal power and harmonies that move even the most unsaintly to tears. Or maybe I am just a big wuss of a reviewer.
Craig Butterworth is outstanding as Quasimodo, both vocally through song and text and in his body work and his understanding of the sensitive and ultimately sad and disabled character. Butterworth plays Quasimodo very sympathetically with a degree of deafness (from the bells not born deaf) by using some sign language taught by BSL advisor Trish Wright. This is the first time I have seen Craig Butterworth in a lead role and look forward to the day when another such opportunity should arise for him.
Holly Easter’s vibrant Esmeralda shows off the actor’s confident and technically good vocal dexterity and her ability to take a character that could easily be caricatured and make it her own giving us a very human performance allowing us to see the compassionate woman beneath the surface of the incorrect idea of a simplistically wanton gypsy woman.
The songs for David Burton’s scheming Frollo and Ash Bright’s Phoebus get a bit Martin Guerre when the scenes become more dramatically manic in the second act and this reviewer really likes their vocal control and power to convince the audience of their intentions, good or bad, both with naturalistic performances.
One character that stands out is Rowan Dixon’s Clopin. It stands out due to the character’s eccentric nature and Dixon’s confident playing of it but in a stage world where all accents are done in English this reviewer isn’t wholly convinced in the decision to do it in a cod French accent.