Why “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” should be on Broadway

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Michael Arden as Quasimodo and Ciara Renee as Esmeralda

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is a well-known Disney movie based off the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo, with several major differences. In 2015 the Paper Mill theatre brought the magic of this film to an off-Broadway production, which many theatre fans would love to see on Broadway.

The off-Broadway production cast included Michael Arden as Quasimodo, Ciara Renee as Esmeralda, Patrick Page as Frollo and Andrew Samonsky as Phoebus. The production ended April 5, 2015 and was a success among audiences. Now the fans of the show want to see it on Broadway, which would give more people the opportunity to see it compared to the off-Broadway production.

Taking place in France, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is a powerful story about a disfigured man named Quasimodo who spends his life as a bell ringer in the Notre Dame tower. His master, Frollo, tells him to never enter the outside world. He falls for the gypsy girl Esmeralda, who sees him as a person and gives him the friendship he has never known. Along the way Esmeralda falls for captain of the guard Phoebus, who later befriends Quasimodo as well.

The story is dark, but it deals with the important messages of poverty, lower class vs. higher class, friendship, love, selflessness and “what makes a monster and what makes a man.” It is a moving and truly powerful story.

While I have never seen the off-Broadway production, I have heard great things about it through social media. I heard that the cast is amazing and it was a great and powerful musical.

If it were to come to Broadway it would attract more people, bring in new talent, new music and more Disney magic to the stage. The story itself is more real compared to other Disney productions and that is one of the reasons why “Hunchback” should come to Broadway.

Let’s talk about “Rierra!”

Oh my gosh, Rierra are so in love! OMG, James and Idina are totally meant to be! Oh my gosh, STOP!

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Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess in the vlog “Going Bridal.”

People have shipped Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess AKA “Rierra,” when they were both the leads in “Love Never Dies,” despite that Karimloo is married with two boys. This has been driving some fans crazy since they reunited in “Phantom of the Opera” 25th anniversary which was released on DVD in 2012.

The “Rierra” ship is so popular that people write fanfics about them being romantically involved, or edit pictures of them. Fanfics are meant for people to ship certain characters on TV shows, movies, books or musicals. It is not for shipping real people.

Karimloo has stated that he is happily married. His wife Amanda has been with him throughout his acting career. Based on his twitter account, he is clearly a family man and is in love with his wife.

If you watch YouTube videos of Karimloo and Boggess, you will see that they are just good friends. They act like big kids and tease each other like brother and sister.

Another issue I have noticed is people shipping James Snyder and Idina Menzel from the Broadway show “If/Then.” Once again people are shipping a married man with a cast member. They are just friends.

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James Snyder and Idina Menzel

How would you feel if you were in a show, you were married and people shipped you with your co-star? What if it was your husband or wife that fans were shipping with another person? It would hurt right?

I am asking the fans to please STOP shipping real people. It is fine to ship the characters they play, but not the people portraying them. It is disrespectful, especially if they have a family.

Dear Phandom.

The “Phandom” is a fandom that includes people who have the same love for the hit musical “ The Phantom of the Opera.” This is a fandom so close, that the fans on social media were like family. What happened?

It was announced on January 2014 that James Barbour would be taking on the role of the Phantom. Barbour has a past of child molestation and spent time in jail for the deed. You can read the article for more information here.

Once it was announced that Barbour would take on the iconic role, the “Phans” started to take action on social media, which to this day is still happening. Some “Phans” are fine with Barbour being casted, some have accepted it and others have gone as far to say violent things to the people supporting him.

Some “Phans” claim that they are going to protest the show. Why? You say that you love this show and yet you want to protest against it. I do not understand that at all. If you love the show, support it, but do not protest because of one actor. Barbour will leave the show eventually; all actors do that in every show that they are in.

Some fans, myself included, are too afraid to even say “James Barbour” on social media, in fear that Phans and non-Phans for supporting a child molester will attack them with violent words.

What has become of this fandom I used to love so much? All I see now is hate, fear and bullying, more specifically, cyber bullying. This fandom is falling apart and some people have left the “Phandom” all together because of what other “Phans” are saying. Online friendships have been broken and arguments on the social media are all over the place. This is not a “Phandom,” this is a nightmare.

I have a feeling that once Barbour leaves the show, the “Phandom” will be scarred, like the Phantom’s face. Is it too late for the “Phandom” to heal or is the damage already done?

It’s your choice whether to accept Barbour or not, but please stop the bullying. You are only hurting those around you.

“Wicked” movie dream cast

It has been confirmed that there is a “Wicked” movie in the works for what fans hope, will be released in 2016. With the speculation of casting, I thought that I would give my own opinion of who should be casted for the movie.

Elphaba:

Samantha Barks– This lovely lady (“Les Mis” pun intended) first got her start in the BBC television show “I’d Do Anything,” where Barks and countless other women competed for the role of Nancy in “Oliver.” Barks came in third in the competition and since then have been in “Les Miserables” as Eponine on West End, the 25th anniversary at the O2 and the 2012 movie. Since the “Les Mis” movie came to the big screen she has gained fame and the ability to show her talent. If her version of “Defying Gravity” is not proof enough that she should be in the movie production, I do not know what is.

Rachel Tucker– Another contestant from “I’d Do Anything,” Tucker is well known for portraying Elphaba on the West End and is the longest running actress to play the role in London. With actual experience in the role and having made her Broadway debut in “The Last Ship” in its short run from October 2014 through January 2015, she is no stranger to both the American and British audience.

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Rachel Tucker as Elphaba on West End

Lea Michele– It is already rumored that the “Glee” star will take on the iconic role. Original Elphaba, Idina Menzel plays Michele’s mother in “Glee” and Michele has sung several songs from the musical on the show, so it would be fitting for her to take the role on the big screen.

G(a)linda:

Sierra Boggess– This magnificent soprano would be perfect in the movie. I can just imagine her singing and dancing to “Popular” while having fun with the role. Boggess is a well known Broadway and West End actress, specifically for her role as Christine Daae in “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Love Never Dies.”

The only problem with her ever portraying the role in the movie version is that she is not a big enough name for such a popular (pun intended) character. She would be fantastic on Broadway though.

Gina Beck– Beck, like Tucker in the role of Elphaba, has experience with the role. She was G(a)linda on West End in 2011 and reprised the role in the U.S. tour in 2013. She had a cameo as Turning woman number three in the “Les Miserables” 2012 movie and is very well known in London for her other theatre credits.

Much like the problem Boggess would have, Beck is not well known in the movie industry, despite having a cameo in “Les Mis.”

Fiyero:

Aaron Tveit– Tveit played the role of Fiyero on Broadway in 2008 and has been in several other musicals before and since then. He was in the 2012 adaption of “Les Miserables” as Enjolras and is currently in the TV show “Graceland” as Mike Warren. Because he is well known in Hollywood and has theatre credits, he would be perfect in this iconic role. I can see him dancing through life already.

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Aaron Tveit as Fiyero on Broadway

Boq:

Eddie Redmayne– He’s adorable, he can sing and  he is a golden globe winner, as well as an Oscar nominee. Redmayne played the role of Marius in the 2012 movie “Les Miserables” and won the golden globe for his role as Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything” in January 2015. Who better to get butts in the seat than him?

Daniel Radcliffe– From “Harry Potter” to Broadway, Radcliffe would be phenomenal as Boq! This man is a bucket load of talent and is very well known in the TV and the theatre community. If his version of “Brotherhood of Man” from “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” does not make you think he would be perfect for this (somewhat) loveable munchkin, I do not know what will.

Wizard:

Michael Crawford– Having experience playing the Wizard in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Wizard of Oz,” in 2011, this man would be absolute perfection. Crawford is well known for portraying the original Phantom in “The Phantom of the Opera,” on both West End and Broadway. I could easily see him as the Wizard.

John BarrowmanShakes fist Barrowman! This man is well know for his role as Captain Jack Harkness in “Doctor Who” and its spin-off series, “Torchwood.” Before he was a TV actor he was in various musicals on the West End and Broadway. He can sing, he can dance and let’s face it he would have a blast with this role. He is currently on the TV show “Arrow” as the villainous, Malcolm Merlyn. Who better to play the cunning, fun Wizard than this man?  His song “The Doctor and I” is just more proof that he should be in this musical.

Madame Morrible:

Kristin Chenoweth– The woman who originated the role of G(a)linda on Broadway would be fantastic as Madame Morrible! While I have never seen her portray a role like Madame Morrible, she would be great either way. She was on the TV show “Pushing Daisies,” had a reprising role on “Glee,” has been in several movies and is currently back on Broadway. Who knows, if she plays this role maybe we can hear her infamous “Cheno Note.”

Original Broadway cast– I do not care if they’re in the chorus. Put them in the movie!

“Once” tour review

Tony award winning musical of 2012, “Once,” came to Oklahoma City, Okla., on January 13, 2015. I got to see it on January 17, 2015 and I was not disappointed.

The cast included West End actor, Stuart Ward as Guy, Dani de Waal as Girl and Evan Harrington as Billy. All of the actors in the performance played instruments such as the guitar, piano, cello, drums, violin, etc.

Ward was amazing as Guy. He was a great actor and had fantastic voice. His first song, “Leave” was entrancing and had so much emotion, especially with his guitar playing. His duet with Waal in “Falling Slowly” was amazing. Their voices went very well together.

Waal did a fantastic job as Girl. She was humorous, had a beautiful voice and did an amazing job dancing with the ensemble and portraying the emotions in the song “If You Want Me.” Her best song overall was her solo “The Hill,” because of her voice and her emotions. She did a great job on the piano, which she plays during the musical.

Harrington was great as Billy. He looked like he was having fun with the role, from giving humorous lines to being serious when the situation in the musical called for it. He had a great voice as well and was great playing the guitar, percussion and ukulele throughout the musical.

This was my first time seeing this musical and it became a new favorite of mine by intermission. It has beautiful music, especially “Falling Slowly.” Amazing choreography in “Gold,” with the way the actors could dance and play their instruments at the same time. Another favorite of mine is “Leave,” which was a wonderful opening song.

The musical itself was wonderful. A great love story between the two main characters, that goes from a shaky friendship to where they slowly fall in love. It is also about music along with the stories and passion behind it. It is also about family and not to give up on your dreams.

Has “Phantom” Gone Too Far?

I was exposed to “The Phantom of the Opera” at a very young age and have been a huge fan ever since. I saw it first, at the age of 10, and have seen it four more times over the years. It was also the first show I saw on Broadway. This musical has been running for nearly 27 years on Broadway with nearly 15 actors who have portrayed the main role of the Phantom. On January 12, 2015 it was announced that James Barbour would take over the role after current Phantom, Norm Lewis.

After the news of Barbour’s casting was announced, it was fairly exciting. After months of anticipation to find out who would be taking over the most sought out role as the Phantom, fans finally got their big reveal! A very short time later, the “Phantom” fans AKA “Phans,” started to attack James Barbour on social media. It was not because he was replacing Lewis, but because he appears to have a tarnished record. According to this, he was accused of molestation, spent 60 days in jail, and plead guilty of misdemeanor charges.

According to Twitter, there seem to be a lot of upset “Phans” because the majority of them are young women, in their 20’s or younger. Many of them are not happy with the new casting choice and are calling for a change to remove Barbour from the main role. The “Phans” are going as far as tagging the show as well as Andrew Lloyd Webber to make their voice heard. I think the biggest concern from fans is that Barbour would be working with younger women on the show and given his history of molestation, I think I would be too.

I can see why the “Phans” are uncomfortable, it is a very difficult situation, and it is taking the story of “Phantom” to a new level of weird, because the Phantom is a stalker who seduces Christine.

There are many young women, raging from teenagers and up, who love the Phantom. They see the character as this misunderstood man who just wants to be loved. They portray him a romantic character. In the 1980’s, the Phantom was considered a sex icon when the musical first opened. It may or may not cause controversy for Barbour to portray such an intimate role with his history of child molestation.

As a Christian myself, I am not called to make judgments or judge Barbour on his past. I do not know him, and I do not follow his career. What I see is a man who is looking for a second chance, and “The Phantom of the Opera” is a popular musical, therefore a potential fresh start for Barbour. I would hope that the decision by Webber to hire Barbour was one taken very seriously given his history of child molestation.

Do I agree with his past actions? Absolutely not, but it is not my place to judge him because of that alone.

“Billy Elliot” Live review

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Liam Mower (older Billy) and Billy Hanna (Billy) in the number “Swan Lake.”

“Billy Elliot Live” was filmed on September 28, 2014 and screened in several European countries and North America. It stars Broadway and West End star, Ruthie Henshall as Mrs. Wilkinson, Elliot Hanna as Billy Elliot, David Muscat as Mr. Braithwaithe and one of the three original West End Billy Elliots, Liam Mower as older Billy. The DVD was released on November 24, 2014 in the United Kingdom.

The storyline of “Billy Elliot” was amazing, along with the music and the actors were phenomenal. Hanna is an amazing dancer and singer. One of his best performances was “Angry Dance,” in which Billy lets out all of his anger in a powerful dance number, which is nothing short of amazing. One of the most beautiful numbers in the musical is “Swan Lake,” a moving and beautifully choreographed number that Billy dances to with older Billy.

Henshall as Mrs. Wilkinson was absolutely amazing. She did a fantastic job delivering the humor and tenderness to the character. One of her best numbers was “Born to Boogie,” a trio along with Hanna and Muscat. Henshall did a great job acting in the musical and her voice is nothing short of amazing.

Deka Walmsley did a great job as Billy’s dad, Jackie Elliot, a drunken man still grieving over the loss of his wife and only wants what is best for his two sons. Walmsley and Chris Grahamson (Tony Elliot) did a great job in “He Could Be a Star,” a very moving song between father and son. Ann Embry, who just retired, did a great job ad the Grandma, very humorous and a lovely voice.

I have never seen this musical before and watching it for the first time, I fell in love with it. There were two songs in the musical that made me cry they were so sad and beautiful, “The Letter (Mum’s Letter)” and “The Letter (Billy’s Reply).” “Billy Elliot” is a powerful story about community, family, finding yourself and standing up for what you believe in, in a time when a boy doing ballet was scoffed upon.