Walt Disney Theatricals will present the world premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a stage adaptation of its animated musical film, in May 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.
A Berlin, Germany press conference (Nov. 5) announced that composer Alan Menken has written nine new songs to go along with the existing tunes from the film. The show will reportedly run at about two and-one-half hours. No casting has been officially announced.
As of Nov. 5, 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.
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).
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. Stephen Schwartz has written 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 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).
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