On Thursday night, Mike and I went to the opening night of the Hunchback at the Citadel Theatre. And we weren’t the only ones:
Hunchback is described as a “darkly romantic musical” with a “surprising new take” on Victor Hugo’s famous story. A story of “Love — at its most potent, merciless and obsessive.” It looked promising. It intrigued me the most out of the Citadel’s Landmark Classic Homes Mainstage Series. And it was that intrigue that brought us to the theatre that night!
So, wow. Was it ever amazing. I was pulled in from the minute it began, eyes glued to the stage, in awe of what was happening just a few feet away from me. So many things to touch on – the beautiful set, props, costumes. Really, really wonderful designs. The MUSIC. Phenomenal. Those in charge of sound and music composing and directing deserve a gigantic high five because the music was fantastic. In one of my #yeghunchback tweets I described it as at times very modern, modern pop and even Daft Punk-like and even sometimes futuristic but always so compelling. The wonderful acting and the incredible singing- the vocals. Mike thought Quasimodo (played by Ron Pederson) was the best, vocally. I don’t disagree, but I thought the entire cast had outstanding voices. You couldn’t get that kind of audio experience in a movie theatre, seriously. Listening to them sing was mesmerizing. Jeremy Baumung, who played Pierre Gringoire, the play’s narrator, is a-m-a-z-i-ng! He was my favourite character — such a great story teller, it felt like he was pulling me into the musical. The dancing! Wonderful choreography and lovely to watch. I don’t know if I was just so overly blown away because the few number of plays and musicals I’ve ever been to have all basically been school productions and I’ve never experienced a full-blown professional performance like what I saw Thursday night, but it really did blow me away.
But there was one thing that bugged me. I thought that Captain Feebus was too ridiculous a character. I get that he was clearly the comic relief amidst the rest of the dark and deeply intense play but I just got too much of a douche-y, jackass feeling from him that just didn’t jive with me. That’s not me attacking the actor who played him — no, no. Great actor, he played the Feebus character just as it was meant to be in this adapation. I just didn’t like the character! And when I decide I don’t like a character, I really, really, don’t like that character. It was hard for me to believe that Esmeralda could be THAT in love with the kind of guy Feebus was, womanizing, kind of stupid and quite pompous. It was hard for me to believe that she could still be so in love with him even after her and Quasimodo’s moment in the tower! Beyond my distaste for Feebus, I don’t know if Mainstage Series productions at the Citadel are typically this long or not, as I am very much a theatre newbie, but at nearly three hours (including intermission), Hunchback did seem to go on a teeny bit too long. But really, just a teeny bit. I only looked at my phone to check the time once — and that’s mostly because I’m normally in bed by 10 p.m. :)
But aside from that, I loved Hunchback.
(Mike’s poor cell phone camera work)
(At least my cell phone camera work didn’t have an ugly flash)
To sum up, Hunchback definitely delivered on the “dark” that it promised. Certainly it was a lot darker and more adult than the Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame version I grew up knowing ;) But what a story. So tragic, so compelling, so romantic. And such a powerful performance. The final narration by Jeremy/Pierre was captivating. The entire theatre was listening to his every word and there wasn’t a single sound made during one of his pauses, everyone was just waiting – waiting for what he would say next, and absorbing what he had just finished saying. Also worth noting – standing ovation at the end.
Big thank you to Pamella Heikel for inviting me out to experience the Citadel Theatre and huge kudos to the Catalyst Theatre. Another piece of proof that Edmonton is a city full of incredible talent. You’ve got a fan in me.
Mike had fun. I had fun. We hope to do it again soon! Mike had expressed interest in the upcoming The Three Musketeers so maybe we’ll dip our feet into the theatrical pool again for that one!
Did you see Hunchback? What did you think!!
If you haven’t yet, are you planning on going??