The Playhouse San Antonio‘s production of the Hunchback of Notre-Dame – a first in Texas – has been quite the undertaking, and Resident Designer Nicholas Ponting’s set deserves a standing ovation of its own. From the North Rose Window to the stones and beams, he captured the cathedral while creating a functional set. Jeremy Whittington’s statue and gargoyle carvings, props, and drapery work add the extra final touches to the incredible view.
“Recreating the Notre-Dame de Paris for the stage is no small feat,” Ponting said. “Doing so in a manner that honors the style, period, and the architecture [in which] the original story takes place, while still giving a freshness and practicality to this new musical has been one of the more challenging, yet rewarding designs I have done thus far in my career.”
The Texas premiere of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame runs Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 at The Playhouse San Antonio.
Noel Jordan’s costume design, which was implemented by Cordelia Rios, Sarah Brookes, and Emily DeLaGarza, gives the play a stunning picture, and Darrin Newhardt’s music direction and orchestra is fantastic. Combined with the genius of Sound Engineer Jesse Worley, the production becomes audio candy. While this is not a dance intensive show, the movement in various scenes can be tricky and must be authentic. Marketing and Outreach Director Courtnie Mercer’s work is well-crafted and executed. Put all of this together under Lighting Designer Dan Heggem’s craft, and audiences are guaranteed to be left speechless.
“I have always been in love with Disney,” Heggem said. “Getting the opportunity to light one of their productions is always a treat, however very challenging. This is my third Disney musical, and I can assure you that Disney magic is alive and well at The Playhouse San Antonio.”
“When you watch this show, it seems easy; however, it is massively challenging,” Playhouse CEO and Artistic Director George Green said. “This cast is disciplined and focused. They made my job less difficult. Their commitment to giving you a consistent, high-quality production is evident. I will forever be grateful to the cast, crew, and Playhouse staff for making this story worth telling.”
Actor and Humble, Texas native Nicholas Szoeke joins the cast as Quasimodo. His powerful and rich voice combined with his astute acting ability makes him the perfect hero. To play such a role that is emotionally, vocally, and physically demanding is an undertaking that requires an adept performer.
“Quasimodo is the most challenging role I have ever played,” Szoeke said. “To be hunching over throughout the show, climbing all over the beautifully crafted set, using a “forced” speaking voice, and singing this gorgeously composed score is tremendously demanding, but also rewarding. I have also had the opportunity to learn some American Sign Language, which is used to tell parts of the story. That has been some of the most fun for me.”
It’s fitting that The Playhouse opens its 2017-18 Season with a production that is up to the “everything’s bigger in Texas” motto.
“This premiere [is] a sign of things ahead for our organization and our city,” Green said. “We have recently taken on the challenge of being San Antonio’s only true equity-professional theater. For over a century, our organization has been at the forefront of fulfilling the artistic needs of our area. This is yet another example of how The Playhouse is willing to take on the challenges necessary to better our region. We do this knowing that we have the support of our patrons. We have several other exciting productions including more premieres following this one.”
From the first moment that the bells of the cathedral start to ring, this sweeping score and classic tale will captivate Playhouse audiences. Relive Victor Hugo’s touching story of love and acceptance recreated by the Academy Award-winning team of Alan Menken (music), Stephen Schwartz (lyrics), Peter Parnell (book).