Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bell Ringer

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Saturday, September 24, 2016 -- 2:00 p.m.
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
La Mirada, CA

I had forgotten that this show was being performed this year in a theater closer to me than the one farther down south, but a friend's post reminded me and I quickly went to Goldstar to see if tickets were available, because the regular priced tickets were expensive.  Success!  I snagged the last ticket!  

I had never been to this theatre before today.  It's kind of weirdly situated in a residential neighborhood with an Albertson's and a gym.  The parking was odd, too, like they were expecting a majority of their patrons to arrive in a (very) compact car.  

The lobby is really nice, and immediately I thought that it would be perfect for a scatter-type meet and greet if Rockapella performed there.  They had a photo op backdrop with props for this show, which I thought was fun.  I didn't have a picture taken of myself, though.  There is also another lobby upstairs, which includes a piano.  There are only 3 stalls in the restroom for the women upstairs, so that made for a long line at intermission.  There are more downstairs.  They also have a bar where you can order drinks and packaged snacks.  The signs at the theatre doors show that they do not allow food or red wine in the theater, so I'm just going to guess that you can bring in other beverages.  

I can't say much for the inside of the theater itself because I was in the balcony and I didn't get to see much of the orchestra level seats.  I didn't like the fact that I had to look around the person that was seated in front of me if I wanted to see certain parts of the stage, so perhaps the levels are too shallow, at least in the balcony.  

On with the show!

  • I loved Dino Nicandros' voice!  He sings as Quasimodo, and I especially loved hearing him sing "Out There" and "Heaven's Light".
  • I haven't read the novel, so I didn't know that Quasimodo was deaf, but that makes sense because those bells are LOUD.  I liked that they cast a deaf actor (John McGinty) in the role, although I wasn't sure that the actor was actually deaf until I read an article about him.  And he was Frollo's nephew?  Mind. Blown.  Cool that they used American Sign Language as part of their choreography.
  • I thought that Mark Jacoby was amazing as Frollo, especially during "Hellfire". 
  • While I thought that Keith A Bearden did a fine job as Clopin, I missed Clopin's signature high notes.  The chorus women sung those notes instead.
  • Why?  Why does the chorus need to read their music?  Did they just learn that they were going to sing in the show?  Why wasn't it memorized?  Or maybe because they're not actors, and they're in the choir, they were allowed to use their sheet music..but I'm pretty sure they didn't have those kinds of binders and paper in the 15th century.  ;)
  • Ooh, Esmerelda!  She was sexy and I liked Cassie Simone's voice.  Perfect for the woman whom would be the desire of the 3 other leads.
  • I did have issues with some of the music choices, like some of the chords seemed off, but I think it had to do with the arranger mixing some of Menken's music with new stuff that didn't seem to fit chord-wise.
  • I miss the comedy from the Disney animated film, like Phoebus should be funnier.  The gargoyles did provide a little bit of humor, but it wasn't cutesy like in the film.  Because of the darkness of this play, I don't recommend that parents bring young kids to this show, thinking that it's going to be like the Disney film.  Your kids will probably be bored, and the subject matter is for more mature folks.  I mean, even the Disney film, with "Hellfire", isn't really young kid material.  
  • Oh, Phoebus!  I was completely thrown off when he didn't have blond hair.  I would have liked to hear him sing more.  "Someday" is an OK song, but it is a bit long, or maybe I was just sleepy.  I would have liked to hear him sing a major solo instead.
  • I think I cried three times, mostly because I love Quasi's songs and they were quite well done, but the story is also not a Happily Ever After deal, so...yeah.  Tears.
Hunchback is showing through October 9, 2016. 

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