- Contributing New Jersey Theatre Critic
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, produced by the Light Opera of New Jersey at SOPAC, is of professional quality. This company is well known throughout New Jersey for producing shows with exceptional talent and The Hunchback of Notre Dame delivers.
Will Carey plays the lead role of Quasimodo with vigor and heart. Carey has the remarkable ability to tear your heart to pieces as the audience feels for this kind yet disfigured human who is seen as a monster by everyone around him. Except for the genuine and brave Esmeralda, played by Erica Nadera, who is the first person who sees him as the caring person that he is. Nadera’s vocals are absolutely beautiful on the famous songs, “God Help the Outcasts,” and “Someday.” Dom Claude Frollo, the priest, played by Ken Garcia, was excellent in the evil role as the caretaker to Quasimodo and Priest. Another standout included Michael Barthels strong acting as Phoebus De Martin. In addition to the excellent ensemble with lines and dances, the show also utilized a twenty-three person choir in full cast numbers, creating a full and rich sound. This additional choir sat in pews off to the side, only standing up to sing. The choir showed their talent with the Act Two opener, allowing them center stage for just a few short minutes.
An ensemble member poses a question in the opening scene, and another at closing: "What makes a monster, and what makes a man?" This question is answered throughout the story as the audience learns that appearances are not always what they may seem. The show also questions how we treat those who are different than ourselves, along with other themes. There is much to learn from this hopeful and powerful show.
This musical has passion, combined with an excellent story and beautiful vocals and acting- buy your tickets now before the show closes next Sunday, July 22nd. It really is Broadway in South Orange. Directed by Jeffrey Fiorello, Music Direction by Stephen Fox, Choreographed by Michael Scannelli.