La Mirada Theatre Performing Arts
Sept. 16 – Oct. 9, 2016
Rating: AMAZING ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (out of 5)
A revival musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, songs created by the talented artists of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.
The musical never hit Broadway. It premiered in Berlin, Germany from 1999-2002 and opened only in two places in the U.S.: La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, CA and Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ.
In a way I can see why this musical would never hit Broadway, the novel has dark elements that isn’t suitable for a typical fairytale Disney story. I was pleased to find that La Mirada Theatre Performing Arts was showcasing a production of the musical. What was more intriguing about this production is the main actor – John McGinty – who plays Quasimodo is deaf.
The whole concept of having a deaf actor to play a character who struggles on being an outcast due to his outer appearance which makes him feel and seem like a monster seemed to be a challenge. I wondered the whole time how is a deaf actor going to act and sing for a main role? The way they developed sign language and singing to correlate to each other was incredible!
McGinty speaks throughout the show but at particular times such as when he interacts with the gargoyles they come to life with singing and sign language, one particular gargoyle played by Dino Nicandros becomes McGinty’s vocals. Nicandros sings beside McGinty as he relays his feelings and emotions through sign language for the parts where Quasimodo’s is meant to sing. I should have been more open minded that it is possible to do the impossible. To see an actor display such emotions with sign language was tear-jerking, it was a tremendous work of art. They really broke the barriers and open the doors for deaf actors.
A classic tale become something more meaningful and now I have more appreciation to the story and to the characters. The actors and actresses gave an awe-inspiring performance, a standing ovation from the entire audience. It was incredible.