Audiences greeted The Gunnery Drama Society’s production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” with great acclaim. The musical by James Lapine and Peter Parnell was the first theatrical production to take the stage in the Tisch Family Auditorium in February, and transported theatergoers to 15th century Paris and the Notre Dame Cathedral with its visual imagery, costumes, sets and song.
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, the production featured an ensemble of 12 guest musicians, led by Music Director Sarah Fay, who performed music from the 1996 Disney animated feature film, as well as songs by the Academy Award-winning team of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.
Elizabeth Dayton ’08, Director of Dramatic Arts, said the drama society was thrilled to take on such a large-scale production in its new space. “The first production in a new theater is always groundbreaking, and with the exciting growth we are experiencing – the new TPACC building and Tisch Family Auditorium, the higher number of students involved in the production, and the new technical aspects – it is all a challenge we are eager to undertake,” she said in her program note.
Behind the scenes, the cast and crew took time to examine the deeper layers of the play and its themes of acceptance and individuality. Producer and faculty member Sarah Albright wrote her senior thesis for her French degree on Victor Hugo and his social impact, and spoke with the cast about the cultural and contextual elements of the show and its setting. Fay, who also played keyboard on stage, brought her extensive experience in Renaissance and spiritual music, and the sets by Al Chiappetta and costumes by Terry Hawley P’08 helped to bring the overall creative vision to life, Dayton said.
Prior to the opening night performance, Max Farrar ’21 spoke at School Meeting about the theme of “the other,” which was primarily represented in the play through his character, Quasimodo, as well as its depiction of the Roma people. They were called “gypsies” to degrade them and remind them of the stereotypes that were associated with them as extravagant people of mystery, of carnivals, and also as thieves and liars who were not to be trusted, Farrar said.
“The musical is a very extreme portrayal of ‘the other,’” yet it is important to think about how people who are considered “other” based on their differences are treated in society today, Farrar said.
In The Gunnery’s production, Andrew Sutherland ’21 portrayed Quasimodo’s pious yet deceptive caretaker, Dom Claude Frollo, and Jonathan Dyer-Gray ’20 was the noble Captain Phoebus de Martin, the soldier who ultimately befriends the Hunchback. All three fall under the spell of the captivating and free-spirited gypsy, Esmerelda, played by Erin-Elizabeth Ryan ’21.
The gypsies who took over the city during the Feast of Fools were led by Travis Powell ’20 as Clopin Trouillefou. The extensive cast included Nick O’Brien ’20 as Frollo’s brother, Jehan; Isabel DiGiacomo ’20 as Florika; Charles DeVos ’20 as Father Dupin; Daniel Wang ’20 as Lieutenant Frederic Charlus; and Alex Zhang ’20 as Madam.
Among the standouts were the gargoyles who whispered and sang their advice to Quasimodo from the shadows: Julia Cortese ’23, Alice Pan ’21, Aris Wang ’20, Yolanda Wang ’21 and Maggie Xiang ’21.
The production featured original choreography by Esmerelda’s dancers, Rose Liu ’22, Isabel Martin ’20 and Audrey Richards ’23. The gypsies were played by Emily Bello ’21, Leah Coley ’22, Sheriden Curry ’22, Olivia Grieder ’21, Ashleen Hay ’23, Grace Noh ’22, Emma Smith ’22 and Lauren Stark ’21.
The stage crew included Lucy Sanchez ’23, who made the flowing robes for the gargoyles; Acadia Johnson ’21, Kaylee Alexson ’21, Allison Bruck ’22, Kate O’Farrell ’22, Serdar Kaltalioglu ’22, Hailey Lovallo ’22, and Natalie Perkins ’22.
View photos of the performance in our SmugMug gallery.