Disney TV Film of Menken-Schwartz "Hunchback" Begins Production in 2004

News   Disney TV Film of Menken-Schwartz "Hunchback" Begins Production in 2004
"The Hunchback of Notre Dame," the animated Disney film which was converted into a stage musical in Berlin, Germany, will have a third life as a television film.

Director Jeff Bleckner, who piloted the upcoming Disney TV movie of The Music Man, told Playbill On-Line that production work on the classic Victor Hugo story should begin in early 2004.

Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz's film score will be used for the television version. The composers will write some additional material, as well. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who were producers of "The Music Man," "Annie" and "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella" for Disney, will also produce "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Sally Robinson and Bleckner, who penned the TV adaptation of the Meredith Willson musical, will team again to bring "Hunchback" to the small screen.

Bleckner said both he and Robinson took in the Berlin production of Hunchback, which closed on June 16, 2002. No casting has been decided, but Bleckner said he'd be looking for a young Quasimodo, one contending with the sexual urges of puberty.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame closed in Berlin just over three years after it opened at the Musical Theater at the Potsdamer Platz. Stella Ag was the show's German production company.

Back in January 1998, plans were underway to bring the show to Broadway with James Lapine directing. Nothing came of that plan and attention shifted to a live-action, television-movie musical of the material for ABC-TV's "Wonderful World of Disney." For the stage version, Alan Menken wrote nine new songs to go along with the existing tunes from the film. Stephen Schwartz has penned the lyrics. 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 1996 animated film was directed by Kirk Wise and Garry Trousdale.

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