Notre-dame de paris

[REVIEW] ‘Notre Dame de Paris’ captures the quintessence of French musical comedy

Korea time


[REVIEW] ‘Notre Dame de Paris’ captures the quintessence of French musical comedy

A scene from the musical,
A scene from the musical “Notre Dame de Paris”, featuring dancers swinging on bells / Courtesy of Mast Entertainment

By Dong Sun-hwa

A Wednesday afternoon is obviously not the most ideal time to watch a musical, but yesterday the Blue Square hall in central Seoul was packed with spectators, eager to see the original French production of the musical “Notre Dame from Paris”. .”

Created in France in 1998, “Notre Dame de Paris”, based on Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel, is one of the most sought-after foreign productions in Korea and has attracted more than 15 million viewers worldwide.

Composed by Riccardo Cocciante and written by Luc Plamondon, “Notre Dame de Paris” ended in early January 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but recently returned to Korea for encore performances, beginning its broadcast on February 25.

Set in Paris in 1482, the musical revolves around Quasimodo, a hunchback bell-ringer at Notre Dame Cathedral, and his unrequited love for a beautiful gypsy named Esmeralda, who loves Phoebus, captain of the king’s archers. However, “Notre Dame de Paris” does not only focus on the theme of love, but also on various topics ranging from discrimination to abuse of power, which people today find relevant and relevant.

For Wednesday’s show, Angelo Del Vecchio played Quasimodo and Elhaida Dani took on the role of Esmeralda, with Eric Jetner playing Phoebus. Laurent Ban played Frollo, the archdeacon of Notre-Dame who later comes to love Esmeralda, while John Eyzen took on the role of the musical’s storyteller, the poet Gringoire.

A scene from the musical,
A scene from the musical ‘Notre Dame de Paris,’ featuring Quasimodo, left, Frollo, center, and Phoebus / Courtesy of Mast Entertainment

The musical also captures the quintessence of French musicals, distinguishing itself from theatrical performances of other countries. Unlike most Korean musicals where the actors have to be complete actors who sing, dance and act on stage, the stars of “Notre Dame de Paris” devote all their energy to singing. They don’t dance ― the dance is performed by professional dancers who captivate the audience with their surreal movements, incorporating acrobatic and modern dance. The cast members do not read lines, but tell their stories via music, displaying a characteristic of the French sung musical style.

Such a format allows the singers to get the most out of their voices and allows the audience to experience auditory pleasure while having visual pleasure through the dancers speaking perfectly for the singers.
This aspect is most visible in a scene featuring Phoebus singing the “Torn Apart” number, as he goes back and forth between his fiancée, Fleur-de-Lys, and Esmeralda. As he sings of his pain and disorientation, male dancers ― who do not reveal their faces ― dance to his voice behind a transparent black wall, making agile and spectacular movements to express Phoebus’s whirlwind of emotions.

Interpretations of the world famous number “The Age of the Cathedrals” by Eyzen, “The Bohemian Song” by Dani, “Belle” by Ban, Vecchio and Jetner and “Dance My Esmeralda” by Vecchio, were some of the gems of Wednesday’s show, which won a round of applause. During his encore, Eyzen gave a surprise gift to the Korean audience by singing “The Age of the Cathedrals” in Korean.

“Notre Dame de Paris” will take place at the Blue Square until March 18.