Broadway Review: NOTRE DAME DE PARIS (David H. Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center)

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by Paulanne Simmons on July 11, 2023

in Theater-New York


Victor Hugo published The Hunchback of Notre Dame, or Notre Dame de Paris in French, in 1831. Since that time the novel about Quasimodo, the hunchback and the much-loved Romani dancer, Esmeralda, has been adapted into silent films, talkies, animated films, television miniseries, plays and operas.

In 1998, Notre Dame de Paris, a pop-rock, sung-through musical, with music by Richard Cocciante and lyrics by Luc Plamondon, premiered in Paris. Over the years, the show has been presented all over the world, from Spain to Singapore, from Turkey to Taiwan. It is now celebrating its 25th anniversary at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, under the direction of Gilles Maheu.

Notre Dame de Paris is really much more of a spectacle than a musical. Most of the songs are power ballads. The members of the cast are all superstars in the voice department. The dances (Martino Muller) are performed by a truly amazing ensemble of acrobats, who climb walls, swing from bells and perform all sorts of gymnastic feats. The lights (Alain Lortie), the set (Christan Ratz), the costumes (Caroline Van Assche) all overwhelm.

The story is a bit hard to follow, even though Gingoire (Gian Marco Schiaretti), the troubadour, serves as a guide much of the time. What’s important is that Notre Dame de Paris is a romance. It is also a tragedy filled with passion and violence. Here are the details.

Esmeralda (Elhaida Dani) attracts the love (or lust) of several people. Frollo (Daniel Lavoie), the archdeacon of Notre Dame, can’t get her off his mind, even though he knows she is forbidden fruit. The rich and married Phoebus (Jeremy Amelin) is similarly attracted to the proscribed beauty. And Quasimodo (Angelo Del Vecchio) longs for Esmeralda even more hopelessly, if somewhat more chastely.

Not surprisingly, things do not turn out well, mostly due to the machinations of Frollo, who contrives to have Esmeralda falsely accused of stabbing Phoebus and sentenced to death by hanging. Frollo gets his just desserts at the hands of the hunchback, but not in time to save Esmeralda.

The show has been slightly updated to reflect modern issues. The outcasts who live in squalor are portrayed as migrants searching for justice and a home. But Notre Dame de Paris does not need a message to make it relevant. Just listen to the music and your heart.

The acrobats: Jonathan GajdaneNathan JonesAndrea NevrozArek Szynal and Ivan Urbano. The dance ensemble: Lorenzo ArnoutsAntonio BalsamoGiulia BarboneMarina BarboneWilfried BernardAlessandra BertiRodolphe DuquesneGiuseppe MarinoGabriel NaboAlessia PapaleSonia PiconeValentin PiersAnaïs ReplumazIvan TrimarchiVaia Venetis and Roberta Zegretti. The breakers: Alex Besnier and Tiger.

photos by Alessandro Dobici

Notre Dame de Paris
David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center
running time: 2 and a half hours, with one intermission
Tues-Thurs at 7; Fri at 8; Sat 2 & 8; Sun at 2
ends on July 16, 2023
for tickets, visit Koch Theater

for more info, visit notredamedeparis
Facebook: @NotreDameDeParisOfficial
Twitter: @ndpofficiel
Instagram: @notredamedeparis_officiel
YouTube: @Notredamedeparislespectacle

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