Kurt Gillins, director of Valparaiso’s Memorial Opera House’s ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” expects audiences to run through a gamut of emotions in his production of the celebrated musical.
“You cry, you laugh, you feel it all,” he said. “There’s so many aspects of life that you can see happening in this show.
Opening Friday and running through March 4, “Hunchback” is the tale of Esmeralda, a gypsy dancer in 15th century Paris, who has captured the hearts of the vain Captain Phoebus de Martin and Quasimodo, the title character and the cathedral’s bell ringer. The two battle for Esmeralda’s affections, which causes no small amount of chaos and heartbreak for all involved.
Based on the 1831 novel by Victor Hugo, “Hunchback” was a big screen animated hit courtesy of Disney in 1996. Featuring the vocal talents of a cast including Demi Moore, Kevin Kline and Jason Alexander and songs such as “The Bells of Notre Dame,” “A Guy Like You” and “Someday,” “Hunchback was nominated for a Best Music Oscar and took in more than $325 million.
Memorial Opera House’s production of “Hunchback” features music from the Disney film, which was penned by acclaimed composers Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz and which Gillis holds in high regard.
“It’s probably the most beautiful score I’ve ever heard for any show,” he said.
Sheree Wheeler-Gudeman and Jeremiah Melden lead a cast of more than three dozen area thesps and singers in Memorial Opera House’s “Hunchback” as Esmeralda and Quasimodo, respectively.
They are joined onstage by Mike Ruff as Phoebus de Martin, Scott Hayes as Claude Frollo, Quasimodo’s guardian with a diabolical agenda of his own, and Micahel Pals as Captain Trouillefou, the leader of a band of thieves.
“(The production is) going really well, and the cast is amazing,” Gillis said. “Of all the (productions) I’ve ever done. This is the biggest. It’s been an honor to lead this group of amazing people.”
Next up for Memorial Opera House is a production of the classic Noel Coward comedy “Blithe Spirit,” scheduled to open April 27.