“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” musical album review

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For months musical theater fans were anxiously awaiting for the release of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” album from the Off-Broadway production. Over the summer of 2015, it was announced that unfortunately the popular musical would not head to Broadway, but a cast recording would be released. Finally, the CD came out on January 22, 2016.

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Michael Arden as Quasimodo

The album consists of cast members from the original Off-Broadway production including Michael Arden as Quasimodo, Ciara Renée (Hawkgirl “The Flash” and “Legends of Tomorrow”) as Esmeralda, Erik Liberman as Clopin, Patrick Page as Don Claude Frollo and Andrew Samonsky as Phoebus. It also features a few ensemble members from the Papermill Playhouse cast, including Jeremy Stolle (understudy in “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway).

Michael Arden is a fantastic singer and put a lot of passion into his character. He put so much emotion into the song “Heaven’s Light” and really showed his vocals in “Out There.” He also had a great speaking tone for Quasimodo. Rather than talking in his normal voice, he made it sound slightly raspy.

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Ciara Renée as Esmeralda

Ciara Renée has a phenomenal singing voice. She put a lot of emotion into “God Help the Outcasts” and it sounded like she had a lot of fun with “Rhythm of the Tambourine.” She is easily one of my favorite singers on the album.

Patrick Page has a great voice, he put a lot of emotion into the character and made him a bit scary. He sounds almost exactly like Tony Jay (Frollo in Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”), especially in “Hellfire” as well as his speaking voice for the character.

 

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Andrew Samonsky (Phoebus) and Ciara Renée (Esmeralda)

Erik Liberman is one of my top favorite singers on the soundtrack. I love Clopin and find his vocals impressive when I watch the movie. Liberman hit the high notes perfectly and he sounded like he had fun singing for the album.

The first song on the soundtrack had me hooked there and then. The choir is amazing and sounds incredibly beautiful. There is a lot of emotion shown though the vocals, especially with the main cast.

Since I did not see the show when it was on stage, I greatly enjoyed the soundtrack. It gives a good idea of what the show was about regarding the book compared to the Disney movie version. While it had some songs from the Disney classic, there were several songs written for the musical itself.

The story seemed to be a mix of the book written by Victor Hugo and the Disney movie version of the same name. It is like the book because of a couple of details in the beginning, but mainly the ending. It is more in regard to the film in terms of Esmeralda and Phoebus’ love story, but only slightly, and the talking gargoyles, which I did not realize were in the musical until the song “Flight Into Egypt.”

Overall, it is a fantastic album and is worth listening to, even if you did not like the Disney version.  The choir will give you chills and the cast will steal your heart. Once you hear the first song, there is no going back because the voices will leave you entranced. I can only imagine what it would have been like to see the stage version.

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