Cresson Lake cast to stage 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' at playhouse

·3 min read

Jul. 21—A theme of what makes a monster and what makes a man will make a grand statement on an area stage.

Cresson Lake Playhouse will present the musical "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Tuesday through July 31 and Aug. 2-6 at at the playhouse, 279 Shapiro Road, Loretto. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. each night, except on July 31, when the show will be presented at 2 p.m.

Paul Seymour, the playhouse's artistic director and director of the musical, said the production has a timelessness to it.

"I've always wanted to do it, and it's a dream show," he said. "I never thought we'd be able to pull it off in the space as small as the barn, so I spent a lot of time in my head negotiating how we would handle some of the challenges of putting 40 people on a 16-by-30-foot stage."

Seymour said he's been working on the show for three years.

"This is the largest show that's ever been done at the barn," he said.

Based on the Victor Hugo novel, the musical tells the story of Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bell-ringer of Notre Dame, and his desire to one day be a part of the outside world.

When he summons the courage to attend the Feast of Fools, he meets Esmeralda, a compassionate gypsy who protects him from an angry mob.

At the same time, Quasimodo's master, the archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, and the new captain of the guard, Phoebus de Martin, fall in love with the beautiful girl. Adding to Quasimodo's struggle is his punishment and derision from Frollo, who has subjected him to years of psychological abuse.

As the three vie for Esmeralda's attention, Frollo embarks on a mission to destroy the gypsies, and it's up to Quasimodo to save them all.

"It's a story about being 'other' and being prejudiced against and judged by outward appearance," Seymour said. "There are so many universal themes and common chords that will hit people."

The 40-member cast includes Kevin Bean as Quasimodo, Joseph Caroff as Phoebus, Scott Getz as Frollo and Gabriella Petrarca as Esmeralda. A 21-member choir will be onstage the entire show, with 19 actors telling the story.

"These 40 people have been given a mission to bring this amazing story to life," Seymour said. "I've worked with lots of amazing people, but this is a group of people who understand how to create art. Of the 19 people in the acting troupe, any one of them could play the lead in any show. I would put this group up against any regional theater anywhere."

He said the production is going to be a trip for audiences.

"The first 10 minutes, characters are introduced, but once we get into the meat of the story, you don't breathe and it comes at you hard," Seymour said. "It's beautiful and exciting."

The show is not recommended for children under the age of 8.

Show tickets range from $16 to $23.

For more information, call 814-472-4333 or visit www.cressonlake.com.