Review: Hale Centre Theatre’s ‘Hunchback’ rings the right bells

James Bounous, (left) and Rebecca Burroughs (right) star as Quasimoto and Esmerelda in the Monday/Wednesday/Friday cast of "The Huntchback of Notre Dame at Hale Centre Theatre. Josh Richardson (center) plays Frollo in all casts. Photo: Hale Centre Theatre

SANDY, Utah, Feb. 15, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — If the Disney film was your last exposure to “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” be prepared for something totally different at Hale Centre Theatre.

And the same goes for if you’ve seen an earlier Hale production. This adaptation is darker and delves deeper into what makes a monster and what makes a man.

The story, based on the 1831 Victor Hugo novel, tells the tale of an innocent baby, born deformed and grudgingly raised by an ambitious and self-important priest, Claude Frollo, who names the child Quasimoto (meaning half-formed).

Frollo convinces the boy he is shameful and unworthy, and must be hidden away, an outcast only worthy to ring the cathedral’s bells.

Years later, we will see both men drawn to Esmerelda, a Gypsy woman who has faced a lifetime of discrimination because of her ethnic and immigrant status.

Quasimoto, now grown, responds to Esmerelda with humanity and honor. Frollo, who has become the Archdeacon of Notre Dame, has less honorable intentions and methods in mind.

Josh Richardson, single cast as Frollo, is masterful in the role. His deep, rich voice fills the theater and fleshes out a three-dimensional villain who is corrupted, over time, by power and conceit. Richardson is the show’s standout.

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Also strong is James Bounous as Quasimoto (Monday/Wednesday/Friday cast), whose youthful enthusiasm and interest in the world is infectious. Bounous’ tenor is soaring and versatile, and his movements emphasize the physical handicaps which set Quasimoto on his path.

Also stellar is Esmerelda, played by Rebecca Burroughs in the Monday/Wednesday/Friday cast. She is the spirited, kindhearted Gypsy dancing girl who balks at convention and first sees Quasimoto’s beautiful heart.

Burroughs captures Esmerelda’s warmth and independence, and has both the voice and the dance moves for the role.

Clopin Trouillefou adds more charisma as the King of the Gypsies, when he’s not playing a rooftop-gargoyle friend of Quasimoto.

Plan on a longish evening with some serious music, and moments of humor and humanity. And you will notice themes that you’ll see in today’s headlines, such as abuse of women by men in power, discrimination and threats to immigrants, and the growth of grassroots activism to effect change.

And it all plays out on the Hale’s frenetic set, with floors that spin, rise and fall, and cathedral bells that lower from above.

“Hunchback” runs through March 31 at the Hale Centre Theatre, at at 9900 S. Monroe St., in Sandy. For more information, click here.

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