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Brisbane review - The Hunchback of Notre Dame: a truly excellent production

By David Wilson                                                                                                                                                    


Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney film

Music By Alan Menken

Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

Book by Peter Parnell

Direction and set design by Bradley Chapman

Musically directed by Jade Enright

Presented by the Beenleigh Theatre Group

At the Crete St Theatre until Saturday 22 June 2024.

 Tickets are $35 adult, $30 concession/child, available at 


Based on the Victor Hugo novel and with songs from the much-loved Disney animated feature, The Hunchback of Notre Dame showcases the film’s Academy Award-nominated score, as well as new songs by Menken and Schwartz. Peter Parnell’s new book embraces story theatre and features verbatim passages from Victor Hugo’s famous gothic novel.

The musical begins as the bells of Notre Dame sound through the famed cathedral in fifteenth-century Paris. Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer who longs to be “Out There” observes all of Paris reveling in the Feast of Fools. Held captive by his devious caretaker, the archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, he escapes for the day and joins the boisterous crowd, only to be treated cruelly by all but the beautiful Gypsy woman, Esmeralda. Quasimodo isn’t the only one captivated by her free spirit, though – the handsome Captain Phoebus and Frollo are equally enthralled. As the three vie for her attention, Frollo embarks on a mission to destroy the Gypsies – and it’s up to Quasimodo to save them all.

The creative team at Beenleigh Theatre Group has exceeded their ‘always-high’ standard with this truly excellent production. The deservedly confident direction of Bradley Chapman was clear for all to see, and his wonderful set design was as grand as it was simple. The ease with which the set transformed from outside to inside and atop the Cathedral was excellent, and the use of the front edge of the stage as the edge of the Cathedral roof was very effective indeed. It was as though the Cathedral itself was a character. The magnitude of the set was matched by the excellent costuming of Trinette Avery and Jo-Anne Kieseker who have once again done a wonderful job, and the seamless connection between the direction, set design and costuming should be applauded.

Visually, this production was spectacular, and vocally it was a triumph. The atmosphere created by the magnificent choir and the sheer wall of sound experienced when the entire cast was in full voice was nothing short of breathtaking.

The entire cast was excellent, with the five leads each absolutely nailing their part.

Michael Ware was wonderful as Quasimodo, the pure hearted, disfigured ‘monster’. Ware made the very difficult look easy, expertly capturing the characters shy insecurity, bravery, loyalty and self-doubt in a performance also demanding physicality and vocal strength. Excellent throughout, Ware was at his best when conversing with the statues and gargoyles where his emotional range and comedic timing were on point, and his performance of “Out There” was excellent.

Reagan Warner’s immense stage presence was on full show as the calculating, manipulative and obsessive Dom Claude Frollo, Quasimodo’s ‘Master’. In a role requiring significant gravitas, Warner simply demanded attention. His wonderfully fanatical characterisation was matched by excellent vocals - a powerhouse performance. His performance of “Hellfire” was an absolute highlight, both visually and vocally spectacular.

Nikita O’Keefe was truly enchanting as Esmerelda, the free-spirited and compassionate Gypsy who captured the hearts of Quasimodo, Frollo and Phoebus. Perfectly cast, O’Keefe shone in the demanding role, and her performance of “God Help the Outcasts” was beautiful.

Adam Goodall was marvelous as the charming Phoebus De Martin, the Captain of the Cathedral Guard who ultimately defied Frollo’s corruption to his peril. Goodall did a wonderful job of character development and, as always, his vocals were excellent. In particular, his performance of “Someday” with O’Keefe was a standout.

Harrison Port was at his charismatic best as Clopin Trouillefou, the king of the Gypsies, wonderfully blending the playful mystery of the role with an underlying darkness. Port’s stage presence is undeniable and he was perfectly cast as Clopin.

While each of the leads were individually excellent, the entire cast was strong, and the production was at its absolute best in the big, full cast numbers such as “The Bells of Notre Dame”, which magnificently set the scene for a wonderful experience.

I thoroughly encourage you to see this very high quality production.











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