La Jolla Playhouse to Present U.S. Premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and West Coast Premiere of Ether Dome

By Carey Purcell
January 24, 2014

La Jolla Playhouse's 2014-15 season will include the U.S. premiere of the musical The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the West Coast premiere of the medical drama Ether Dome.



With music by Alan Menken (Newsies, Little Shop of Horrors) and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin), Hunchback features a book by Peter Parnell ("The West Wing," On a Clear Day You Can See Forever).

Performances begin Oct. 28 and continue through Dec. 7 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre. Scott Schwartz (Jane Eyre, Golda's Balcony) will direct the story of the bell-ringer Quasimodo, the gypsy Esmeralda and the Captain Phoebus, set in 15th-century Paris.

The creative team includes choreographer Josh Bergasse ("Smash"); music supervisor and arranger Michael Kosarin (Newsies); orchestrator Michael Starobin ("Tangled"); scenic designer Alexander Dodge (Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin); costume designer Alejo Vietti (Beautiful); lighting designer Howell Binkley (Memphis, Jersey Boys); and sound designer Gareth Owen (A Little Night Music).

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is produced by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, who earlier developed Peter and the Starcatcher at La Jolla Playhouse as part of the Page To Stage Play Development program.

La Jolla will also present Elizabeth Egloff's play Ether Dome. Directed by Michael Wilson, performances will run July 11–Aug. 10 in the Mandell Weiss Forum in a co-production with the Huntington Theatre Company.

Here's how the production is billed: "When a new treatment promises to eradicate pain, a doctor and his student play out an epic battle between altruism and ambition. Based on the true story of the discovery of ether as an anesthetic in 1846, Ether Dome is a fascinating new play that explores the pain that afflicts humankind, our attempts to find relief and the beginning of healthcare as big business."

"With great anticipation, I look forward to collaborating with the powerhouse creative team of Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz, Peter Parnell and Scott Schwartz to bring Victor Hugo's classic story to life," artistic director Christopher Ashley said in a statement. "I am particularly intrigued by the musical's themes of love and aloneness, obsession and heroism — themes that still resonate with our audiences today. Like Peter and the Starcatcher, this potent new work explores new theatrical forms, one of the hallmarks of the Playhouse's mission.

"It's a delight to welcome back Liz Egloff — a writer possessed of a singular voice and a multitude of remarkable ideas, who brings to vivid life the human drama behind one of the greatest innovations in medical history," he added. "In this era of national healthcare overhaul and in our local community of major biotech and medical technological development, there couldn't be a more perfect time or place to mount this gripping new piece."

Tickets to the 2014-15 season will be available in mid-February through a subscription purchase only by calling the Patron Services Department at (858) 550-1010 or visiting LaJollaPlayhouse.org.