Notre Dame de Paris, the French rock opera by Luc Plamondon (Starmania) and Richard Cocciante, will makes its U.S. debut Jan. 21 at, appropriately, the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, according to a casting announcement in Backstage.
Notre Dame based on the Victor Hugo novel of the same name, has been a hit in French-speaking areas, running successfully at Paris' Palais des Congrès, then touring France, Belgium and Switzerland as well as crossing the Atlantic to French-Canadian Plamondon's home province, Quebec, and Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre.
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 any of the characters.
Original Notre Dame director Gilles Maheu will helm the Las Vegas staging. He is joined by the original choreographer Martino Muller.
An English version of the show for Vegas and a possible London opening is being worked out by Will Jennings, who won an Oscar for his "Titanic" song, "My Heart Will Go On." The musical's official site is located at http://www.ndpofficial.com. Notre Dame de Paris, recorded live at the Palais des Congrès de Paris in 1998, is available in French on the Pomme Music label.
-- By Christine Ehren