Algonquin Arts presents the musical The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Although retired since 2014, I still relish opportunities to teach, write, and share opinions.
Algonquin Arts Theatre in lovely Manasquan, NJ, is now presenting the musical The Hunchback of Notre Dame until October 22, 2023. 
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is based upon the 1996 Disney animated film musical, which was adapted from Victor Hugo’s famous 1831 novel of 15th century French Catholicism, sexual obsession, lust, true love, religious zealotry, murder, intolerance, and compassion. Famed composer Alan Menken wrote the music, and Stephen Schwartz the lyrics about Archdeacon Frollo, his wayward brother Jehan, Jehan’s son (later named Quasimodo, by Frollo), the tempestuous Roma teenager Esmeralda, and dashing Captain Phoebus, who falls in love with Esmeralda.
Who might the Algonquin engage for this musical classic? Off the top of your head, dear reader, you might think Divine for Esmeralda, Alexander Skarsgard for Phoebus, Stephen Fry for Frollo, and Jim Carrey for Quasimodo. No, Divine is in Heaven, so forget that idea. Maybe Zendaya for Esmeralda, Tom Holland for Phoebus, Laurence Fishburne for Frollo, John Leguizamo for Quasimodo, and Todrick Hall for King Louis Xl? No again. A better, far superior cast was miraculously found. Zach Love as Quasimodo is a fantastic singer and actor. A big, brawny man, he scampers about, runs on treacherous-looking scenery, lifts and carries Esmeralda about the stage, and belts astounding sounds that thrill the house. Frollo, the hypocritical, sexually-obsessed Archdeacon of Notre Dame, is masterfully played by Jan Topoleski. Victor Hugo’s 16-year-old Roma heroine Esmeralda is the thrilling and enchanting Alicia Rose Ryan. Dashing, young Captain Phoebus is the dashing, young Rob Ryan (husband to Alicia Rose Ryan). King Louis XI, is the imposing, big bear of an actor Brendan Flanagan, who turns out to be a big swish.
All of these fine actor/singers are joined by a large, on-stage choir, an orchestra (led by Stephen Strouse), and action galore (a battle where Esmeralda beats several men wielding battleaxes (kudos to Fight Choreographer Luke Pearlberg)). James Chianese as St. Aphrodisius has a small but unforgettable appearance as the headless martyr. His quick-change artistry going from headless to head-on-shoulders and back to headless delighted the audience. Don’t forget all the Creative Team who brought this musical to life.
Tiny tykes were in abundant attendance at this Sunday matinee performance, eating popcorn and candy while avidly viewing Frollo’s sexual obsession with Esmeralda, as he fetishized a bit of silk Esmeralda dropped during her dance (a French Catholic Fleshlight of the 15th century, perhaps?), oppression of the Roma populace, state and religious persecution, and having Quasimodo save the day by killing dozens of soldiers and his uncle in boiling lead (a spectacular Noh-inspired special effect!).
The Hunchback of Notre Dame will be with us for only a short time, until October 22, so, how, how, could you not see it? To purchase tickets, or to find information about this and other productions, visit , or call 732-528-9211. 

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