THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
SYNOPSIS & INTERPRETATION
Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney animated feature, The Hunchback of Notre Dame showcases the film's Academy Award-nominated score, as well as new songs and a sweeping score by Menken and Schwartz. Peter Parnell's new book embraces narrative story theatre and features verbatim passages from Hugo's gothic novel.
The musical begins as the bells of Notre Dame sound through the famed cathedral in fifteenth-century Paris. Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer who longs to be "Out There," observes all of Paris reveling. Even the normally outcast Gypsies celebrate the Feast of Fools, an actual historical feast day of medieval times in which roles are "Topsy Turvy" with "fools" of lower levels imbued with higher status for a day. Held captive by the controlling over-zealousness of his caretaker, the archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, Quasimodos escapes for the day and joins the boisterous crowd, only to be treated cruelly by all but the beautiful gypsy, Esmeralda. She identifies with the disfigured hunchback as an outcast like herself in her prayer "God Help the Outcasts." Quasimodo isn't the only one captivated by her free spirit, though – the handsome Captain Phoebus and even Frollo are equally enthralled. Frollo is torn between his self-righteous zeal and his fleshly attraction for Esmeralda, both defying and fearing "Hellfire". He is further conflicted by his mission to destroy the gypsies, whom he sees as the cause of the downfall of his brother (the father of Quasimodo). Our interpretation will focus not on the darker sides of the telling, but on the conflicts between good and evil, with "what truly makes a man a monster", and within the tragic story … the hope for a better world "Someday."