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Fringe Fest review: Notre Dame of Paris

Production faithful to Hugo's tragic tale
2108 fringerev NotreDame
Notre Dame de Paris is at the 2019 Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival.

Notre Dame of Paris

Musicalmania Production Co.

Venue 1

ATB Westbury Theatre

10330 84 Ave., Edmonton

5 Stars

Love, lust, jealousy, madness, revenge, and murder leave a trail of destruction in Notre Dame of Paris.

St. Albert composer-lyricist Cindy Oxley, founder of Musicalmania! Production Co., remounts this sensual tribute to the 19th century French novel written by Victor Hugo.

Unlike the Disney version that modified important aspects of the story, Oxley remains faithful to Hugo’s tragic tale of Archdeacon Claude Frollo who, like his hunchback ward Quasimodo, falls in love with the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda.

Similar to an operetta, virtually nothing is spoken. Everything is sung from beginning to end.

The 16 actor-vocalists meet the demands of Oxley’s original complex score with the assist of a rerecorded backing track.

Throughout the operetta, the cast successfully captures the richness of Oxley’s 22 songs to create surging levels of emotion in a life-and-death struggle.

The show’s three lead actors deserve special recognition. Brendan Fraser was exceptional as Archdeacon Frollo, a man of God who recognizes his intellectual responsibilities to the church yet is torn by increasing lust for the gypsy street dancer.

Esmeralda is the ultimate intoxicating woman who tempts all men and St. Albert’s Maria Kolasis-Harrigan is a triple-threat who fits the role perfectly. Unfortunately, Esmeralda’s beauty and naïveté contribute to a brutal downfall when she is wrongly accused of murder and must seek sanctuary.

And Julien Constantin’s Quasimodo elicits more than a few heart-wrenching moments when the poor hunchback is severely punished for attempting to kidnap Esmeralda under the Archdeacon’s order.

A great deal of thought and preparation has gone into this show. The characters are complex and the songs rival the poignancy of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpieces.

Each production element from lush costumes to specially orchestrated backing tracks that includes Gregorian chants are deftly incorporated.

Notre Dame of Paris is a tragedy that continues in modern times, and will leave audiences thoughtful and pensive dealing with the moral ambiguity and complexity of its characters and ourselves.