CCM’s latest mainstage production – the last to be directed by Aubrey Berg as the chair of the musical theatre program – is “THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME.” Here are four things about the production I enjoyed:
- The choreography. As the newest member of the faculty, Katie Johannigman is making quite an impact. Here she takes an enormous cast and fills up the giant Patricia Corbett Auditorium’s stage with energetic movement and dance. Utilizing the skills she’s teaching as an instructor, the dancing kept the sometimes uninspired melodies form dragging on.
- Esmerelda’s Entrance. Jenny Mollet, the senior playing “Esmerelda,” bursts on to the stage with a dynamite performance of “Rhythm of the Tambourine.” It was a definite highlight of Act One.
- The set. The gigantic set, created by student Lindsay Purvis, is three stories tall and allows for multiple locations to be discovered and explored within the story. The way director Aubrey Berg keeps the action moving – and the set pieces moving, too – helps keep the rather long, complicated story from becoming static.
- “Out There.” There are soaring vocals throughout the musical, but the best song is Quasimodo’s solo, “Out There.” Alex Stone, a senior, is a powerhouse vocalist and his performance of this number is quite moving.
Many of the students cast in this show are graduating (their senior showcase is next weekend before taking it to New York in a few weeks.). But it’s also the end of an era, with Berg retiring. Berg’s retirement has been fairly low-key and strikingly so given the high-profile nature of his role and influence.
In the few short years that I’ve been writing about CCM I’ve seen him do miracles with shows like “Chess” and “Carrie.” He’s staged amazing version of classics like “Les Miserables” and “Oklahoma.” His cabaret shows are nothing short of inspired. His legacy will live on as his students continue to dominate the boards on Broadway and all over the world and I personally have enjoyed getting to know him, enjoying conversation over pizza and burgers from time to time.
While “Hunchback” may be his last big production on the CCM stage (at least for now as a full-time faculty member), his incredible contributions to the world of musical theatre will continue. I’m gonna miss him.
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Book by Peter Parnell
Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney film
Originally developed by Disney Theatrical Productions
• Aubrey Berg, director
• Stephen Goers, musical director
• Katie Johannigman, choreographer
• Erin Magner*, production stage manager
• Dean Mogle, costume designer
• Oliver Tidwell-Littleton*, lighting designer
• Matthew Tibbs, sound designer
• Aria Braswell*, assistant director
• Kelly Yurko, hair and make-up designer
• Lindsey Purvis*, scenic designer
• Hankyu Lee*, associate sound designer
• k. Jenny Jones, fight choreographer