By Kenneth Jones
05 Sep 2005
"Set against the backdrop of the great silent film that made Lon Chaney a star, Vox Lumiere's production re-imagines the story with a new score and a wholly modern company of 16 singers, dancers and musicians," according to production notes. "The multi-level staging and evocative pop-rock score serve to deepen the characters and intensify the film's narrative impact."
Vox Lumiere kicks off the "Prince's New Visions" series, and is presented as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Critics have compared the troupe to Stomp and Blue Man Group.
"In Vox Lumiere: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Wallace Worsely's 1923 classic silent film unfolds on three screens, while below, the singers and a band perform a new rock opera created to complement and heighten the drama of the film," according to the creators.
Music and lyrics are by Academy Award-nominated composer, songwriter and conductor Kevin Saunders Hayes ("Mighty Times - The Legacy of Rosa Parks") with direction by Gabriel Previtera.
The cast includes guitarist, songwriter and producer Christian Nesmith (son of the Monkees' Michael Nesmith), Melissa Fahn (original Broadway cast of Wicked), Suzi Carr George (lead roles in the original L.A. companies of Beauty and the Beast and Cats) and Kyle Lowder ("Days of Our Lives").
Vox Lumiere has performed in both Europe and the United States. In Hollywood, the group played an eight-week engagement to crowds of more than 2,000. It was also honored by the Cinematheque Francaise with a special invitation to perform at the Paris Cinematheque. Other silent films currently in the Vox Lumiere theatrical concept-concert repertoire include Peter Pan, Intolerance, The Phantom of the Opera and Metropolis.
"I've been a film and TV composer, jingle writer, songwriter, and I love theatre," composer Kevin Hayes explained in production notes. "I wanted to use all of my skills at once. When I watched the first silent film, 'Metropolis,' I could hear the score in my head. And I realized that through song, we could bring the characters to life and let them express their hope, their joy."
He said his work with Vox Lumiere is a chance to pay homage to, and to work with, great talents from 100 years ago. "I get to write beautiful music, to express my passion and creativity and to bring a new contemporary relevance to films that would normally sit on a shelf," he observed. "These are beautiful movies and it's amazing that they were made just 10 years after the invention of the motion picture."
Single tickets range from $ 25 to $40. Tickets are available at the Prince Music Theater box office, (215) 569-9700, or online at www.princemusictheater.org.
Prince's "New Visions" series continues the company's legacy of introducing new work from the newest voices, according to the not-for-profit resident Equity theatre devoted to music theatre. The series includes the premiere of Einstein's Dreams in March 2006, Bright Lights Big City in June 2006 and the return of Laurie Anderson to the Prince stage in February 2006 with her solo show, The End of the Moon.
Offering "fresh takes of classics of the American musical theatre," the Prince's "American Legacy" series includes the Off-Broadway hit The Musical of Musicals: The Musical! in October 2005, the legendary musical Dreamgirls in December 2005 and the world premiere of Cole Porter's The Pirate in May 2006.