by Lionel Bart additional book material by Chris Bond and Robert Chevara loosely based on Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris.
King’s Head Theatre 115 Upper Street Islington N1 1QN To 13 April 2013.
Tue–Sat 7.15pm Mat Sun 3pm & 13 April 2pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS 0844 477 1000.
Review: William Russell 24 March.
Plink, plank, plonk – Twang!
The songs for Quasimodo and the book devised by Chris Bond were found by director Robert Chevara in Lionel Bart’s archives. The result is this misbegotten attempt to put on stage what was only a work-in-progress, at best.
Bart’s songs are mostly very good and deserve to be published, to be sung, to be remembered. ‘Abracadabra’, ‘Ding Dong’, Quasimodo’s ode to his friends the bells, and ‘Two Perfect Strangers’ are all hummable delights. But songs alone do not a musical make.
The small cast is willing, but some songs are beyond their vocal resources, and almost all are not up to the dramatic demands imposed by Notre Dame de Paris, Victor Hugo’s novel on which it is based.
As Quasimodo – there is no hunch on his back – Steven Webb makes a pleasant deaf foundling sporting what looks like the Phantom of the Opera’s birthmark and throws himself round Christopher Hone’s minimalist set, comprising lots of ladders, bubble-wrap and some scaffolding without thought of risk to life or limb.
Zoe George makes a pretty Esmeralda, Iestyn Arwel is dashing but dreadfully camp as Phoebus de Chateaupers, the captain of the guard who goes round raping girls, and the less said of James Wolstenholme’s Frollo, the sexually frustrated cleric in charge of Notre Dame, the better – though he can swish a surplice delightfully.
Jonathan Lipman’s costumes beggar belief. He clearly had a concept and does avoid cod medieval, but that said – to the dustbin. They are unwearable. Which leaves Bart’s songs. They deserve better than to be brought to life in this deplorable affair, the first musical to be staged by TheatreUpClose. If this is how they are going to do musicals better stick to opera.
Quasimodo: Steven Webb.
Claude Frollo: James Wolstenholme.
Esmeralda: Zoe George.
Pierre Gringoire: James Hume.
Clopin/Fleurien: Sean Paul Jenkinson.
Phoebus de Chateaupers: Isetyn Arwel.
Pacquette: Helen Sheals.
Yvette: Melanie Bright.
Director: Robert Chevara.
Designer: Christopher Hone.
Lighting: Seth Rook Williams.
Orchestrator/Musical Director: Peter Mitchell.
Choreographer: Lee Proud.
Costume: Jonathan Lipman.
Assistant director: Mary Franklin.