After creating a huge stir in French-speaking circles, Luc Plamondon and Richard Cocciante's Notre Dame de Paris will make its U.S. English language debut at Las Vegas' Paris hotel and casino Jan. 21. Will Jennings, best known for his Oscar-winning "My Heart Will Go On" from "Titanic," wrote the English version of the rock opera, which stars Douglas Storm (The Scarlet Pimpernel), Francis Ruivivar and Jessica Grove (The Wizard of Oz).
Notre Dame based on the Victor Hugo novel of the same name, ran successfully at Paris' Palais des Congrès, then toured France, Belgium and Switzerland before crossing the Atlantic to French-Canadian Plamondon's home province, Quebec, and Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre. This spring, the musical will return again to Toronto where Les Miserables' Robert Marien will sing the lead.
Although it shares characters and plotting with the Walt Disney Company's Hunchback of Notre Dame, Plamondon-Cocciante's Notre Dame remains faithful to the Hugo novel. The villain Frollo is a priest, even lamenting in one number, "Etre prêtre et aimer une femme" ("To be a priest and love a woman"). Also included are Fleur-de-Lys, the upper-class love interest for the soldier Phoebus; Gringoire, the poet-turned-husband to Esmerelda; and scenes of torture between Frollo and the gypsy girl. Like the book, things do not end happily for the characters.
Original Notre Dame director Gilles Maheu helms the Las Vegas staging. He is joined by the original choreographer Martino Muller.
Storm appeared as Leggett in Pimpernel, after playing roles in Les Miserables. Ruivivar, most recently the Cowardly Lion on the Madison Square Garden tour of The Wizard of Oz, played the Engineer in Broadway's Miss Saigon and appeared in Passion and Shogun. Grove made her big break in the part of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz tour. Also in the cast are Deven May (Gringoire), Janien Masse (Esmerelda), David Jennings (Clopin) and Mark Smith (Phoebus). Covering/alternating in these roles will be Eric Hart (Frollo), Douglas Crawford (Quasimodo and Phoebus), Grove (Esmerelda), Marz (Clopin) and Anne Mason (Fleur Lys). Tickets are $69.50 and are available by calling (877) 374-7469.
-- By Christine Ehren