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Musical with lyrics by Luc Plamondon and music by Richard Cocciante, English lyrics by Will Jennings, based on the novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo. Directed by Gilles Maheu. Choreography by Martino Muller.
The musical sensation that's taken Europe and Canada by storm - now comes to London!
Notre-Dame de Paris first opened in Paris in September 1998 to rave reviews and a massive public response, selling over 600,000 tickets in the first six months, and a subsequent four-month tour of Canada sold out more than 300,000 tickets. The musical has also played a sell-out tour of France, Belgium and Switzerland, with ticket sales exceeding one million. 3.5 million copies of the original cast studio album have been sold in Europe and Canada, with the album staying as No.1 for 17 weeks in the French charts. The live double album has sold over one million copies and the single 'Belle' has sold over 2.5 million copies in France alone.
On 31 July 2000: A new five month booking period covering performances from 1 November 2000 to 31 March 2001 was announced. (There will be no performances between 28 November to 10 December 2000).
On 21 September 2000: It was announced that from the 4 October 2000 inclusive, there will be no Wednesday matinee performances.
On 13 February 2001: A new four month booking period covering performances from 2 April to 28 July 2001 was announced.
On 4 June 2001: A new five month booking period covering performances from 30 July 2001 to 5 January 2001 was announced. Tickets are not on sale for performances between 19 November to 1 December 2001 inclusive - this is because during this period this year's Royal Variety Performance will be recorded at the theatre.
On 22 June 2001: Today's London Evening Standard newspaper claims that three high profile musicals - The Beautiful Game, The Witches of Eastwick and Notre Dame de Paris - are "all rumoured to be on the verge of closing early." Under the frontpage headline "Cash Crisis Hits Theatreland, big shows close or at risk as foreign tourists stay away", The London Evening Standard highlights that already a number of productions - including The Secret Garden, Mouth to Mouth, Ghosts and The Beau - have or are all closing earlier than expected. The newspaper states that the problems include the fact that "the pound remains relatively high against other currencies, especially the dollar and the mark, and this makes London very expensive for visitors," adding that "the crisis has been compounded by fears of recession which has been particularly strongly felt in America, Japan and Germany and has led to people staying at home rather than spending money on foreign travel. Additionally, the foot and mouth epidemic has had an impact on tourism with stories about the crisis receiving great play abroad and undermining Britain's reputation as a country to visit." This is born out by figures issued by The London Tourist Board which forecasts a 14% drop in visitors this year. Laurie Webster, the part-owner of Albemarle of London, is quoted in The Standard saying: "There's a big slump in overseas visitors and the home market really doesn't come alive until September."
On 23 September 2001: Early closing notices where posted for 6 October 2001, after a run of 16 months.
DOMINION Theatre previewed 15 May, opened 23 May 2000, closed 6 October 2001
Extracts from the reviews (original cast):
"...It hails from Paris via Montreal, bids to be some sort of rock amalgam of Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, and ends up as some sort of romantic Europop sideshow. As such, I really enjoyed it. Tina Arena sings the role of the gypsy girl Esmeralda and sings it sensationally well... This is not a musical. It is a concert with dance, lighting effects and a lot of French singers throwing their hair around in a collective display of gravelly-voiced pique. The music of Richard Cocciante, the book and lyrics of Luc Plamondon, with the lyrics translated by Will Jennings, are consistently and rockily entertaining... This, overall, is very different and its very own kind of musical spectacular. For a start, the music is recorded, so the singers sing to a backing track... The stage strains to show a different picture each minute and for that, despite everything, I really respect, and maybe love, this show. Tina Arena is superb, and the microphoned voices of French pop stars Garou, Daniel Lavoie and Bruno Pelletier, are as good as any heard on the London stage in the last 20 years." The Daily Mail
"...It's all very visual. The chorus of choreographed refugees is endlessly acrobatic. One minute they are cripples, the next they are doing cartwheels and occasionally the men wear nothing but underpants for reasons I couldn't fathom. Stage design is a disaster, with huge blocks of ugly concrete represnting Paris's beautiful cathedral. Richard Cocciante's surging Euro-pop score comes alive when Ms Arena splendidly lets rip in Live For the One I Love. But there is little romance, beguilement and fantasy. The show is all bats and no belfry." The Express
"...The one thing that can be said in favour of the piece is that Richard Cocciante's score is a winner, at least for those, like me, with lowbrow musical tastes. The more fastidious will probably think the music naff and too loud, but I found the soaring power pop and tortured masochistic ballads stirring. Unfortunately almost everything else about the show is a complete flop... The cast have clearly been chosen for their singing voices rather than their acting skills, and most of them seem to have given up any attempt at creating rounded characters. Instead the principals just march down to the front of the stage and let rip into their very obvious head-set microphones. But though the show - which uses a pre-recorded backing tape rather than a live band, which seems a bit of a cheat - will sound good to fans of middle-of-the-road pop, it looks dismal... On the plus side, there is some lively, acrobatic choreography, with much shinning up and down the back wall. Tina Arena makes a sexy, sultry strong-voiced Esmeralda... But director Gilles Maheu seems incapable of breathing dramatic life and passion into the show, the special effects are often far from spectacular, and one leaves the theatre feeling bludgeoned, exhausted and wishing that one had stayed at home with the delightful Disney video version of the Hunchback story." The Daily Telegraph
"Was it possible to enjoy a musical show that, thanks to endless latecomers and even a camera crew pursuing celeb nonentities through the Dominion, managed to start 25 minutes late, was greeted with whoops of idiot glee from start to finish, boasted a backing track rather than a live orchestra and contrived to be verbally inaudible for much of its sung-through length? Well, yes, last night it was, just about. Much needs excusing, including a pretty uninteresting leading lady, but not the tunefulness of Richard Cocciante's soaring, major-key score; not the quality of the Quasimodo played with such doleful energy by an actor calling himself Garou, not the verve and athleticism of dancers who leap and clatter and somehow whirl their bodies while standing on their heads. One could see, albeit sporadically, why the show has been such a success in Paris... There are occasional imaginative production touches: huge bells with writhing, upside-down humans for clappers, for instance. But if the show's creators aspire to mount a telling attack on an unjust, hypocritical, brutal society they have some way to go. Another Les Mis this isn't." The Times