Walt Disney Theatricals will present the world premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a stage adaptation of its animated musical film, on Jun. 5, 1999. The debut will taken place at the new Musical Theater at the Potsdamer Platz. Stella Ag, the German production and entertainment company, will stage the musical.
The opening date was announced at a Nov. 5 Berlin press conference attended by Stuart Oken, vice-president of Disney Theatrical Productions; Michael Pinkenton, artistic director of Stella; and Guenter Irmler, the head of Stella.
The cast will feature Drew Sarich as Quasimodo and Judy Weiss as Esmerelda. Weiss is a young singer from Berlin who recently had a hit with Italian Tenor Andrea Bocelli called "Vivo per Lei."
As previously reported by Playbill On-Line, Steve Barton, the original Raoul in the London and New York productions of Phantom, will play villain Frollo. A few years back, Barton left the states for Vienna, where he starred in Disney's Beauty and the Beast and created the part of Count von Krolock in the Roman Polanski-directed Jim Steinman musical, Dance of the Vampires, which recently won several IMAGE Awards in Dusseldorf, Germany (a European equivalent of the Tonys).
Also in the cast are Jens Janke (as Clopin), Valentin Zahn (Victor, Gargoyle), Tamas Ferkay (Hugo, Gargoyle), Yvonne Ritz Andersen (Laverne, Gargoyle), Fredrik Lycke (Phoebus) and Carlo Lauber (Archdeacon). The international cast will number 42 people in all, with actors hailing from the U.S., Canada, England, Hungary, Sweden, Philippines, and Germany. The show will reportedly run roughly two and-one-half hours. Stella Ag has already worked with Disney in bringing the German language Beauty and the Beast to London and Stuttgart. Stella generally brings in Broadway shows (in German) to German cities; this is the company's first world premiere.
Alan Menken has written nine new songs to go along with the existing tunes from the film. Stephen Schwartz has penned the lyrics, while James Lapine is in charge of the libretto. Schwartz's works include Children Of Eden, Pippin and Godspell.
Disney spokesman Chris Boneau confirmed in January 1998 that discussions are underway to bring the show to Broadway with Lapine directing. Lapine's latest directorial assignments, The Diary Of Anne Frank and Golden Child, opened last season.
Based on Victor Hugo's novel about a misshappen man with a beautiful soul who yearns for the world beyond his belltower and falls in love with a gypsy girl, the film was directed by Kirk Wise and Garry Trousdale. Another Hugo novel, Les Miserables, was the source for the long running stage musical.
-- By Robert Simonson and David Lefkowitz