Walt Disney Theatricals is scheduled to hold a press conference later this week (Nov. 5-6) in Berlin, Germany, to announce casting for the world premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
As of Nov. 4, the only news about casting has been that Steve Barton, the original Raoul in the London and New York productions of Phantom, will play villain Frollo, according to sources close to the production.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a stage adaptation of Disney's animated musical film, is due to premiere in Berlin in spring 1999.
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 (the Berlin equivalent of the Tonys).
Co-producing the international venture is Stella Musical Management, which 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. Lyricist Stephen Schwartz told Playbill On-Line (Apr. 17) that, as with the animated film, he and composer Alan Menken are working on songs for the show, with James Lapine 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 to positive reviews.
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame movie featured the voices of such theatre folks as Paul Kandel (Tommy), Tom Hulce (A Few Good Men), Kevin Kline (Ivanov) and Jason Alexander (Accomplice), and Charles Kimbrough (Company, Sunday in the Park With George).
Like 1995's Pocahontas, Hunchback has music by Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin) and lyrics by Schwartz (who also wrote The Baker's Wife, parts of Working and lyrics for Rags).
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