Stephen Schwartz Shares His Thoughts on Live Stage Version of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'

Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame will soon begin at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse. Playbill online shared a story as to what audiences can expect from the play as well as why certain changes were made.

Noted in the article, the play is a bit different compared to the Disney 1996 animated version. The play is said to be closer to that of Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel. Stephen Schwartz who wrote the lyrics for the animated film including songs such as “The Bells of Notre Dame” and “Topsy Turvy,” wanted this production to be as real as possible to that of the text of the book. With the combination of lyrics from Schwartz and composer Alan Menken, it will be a play that you won’t want to miss.

Beginning March 15, the people of New Jersey will get a chance to see this great production. Having originally premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse in California, New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse will soon set the production’s run till April 5.  So what is the reasoning behind Schwartz’s ways? In Playbill’s article, he shared his thoughts. Here is what he had to say.

“While I think people who are fans of the movie will be fans of this — and maybe even greater fans — if you bring a certain set of expectations to something and then it doesn’t meet those expectations, you’ll be disappointed,” he said. “Most of the music in the film is in the show, and most of the lyrics, but we’ve really taken a different approach.”

“Because the movie was an animated feature and therefore had an audience that was made up largely, if not primarily, of children — even though we were trying to push the envelope of how far can you take an animated feature — nevertheless, we had to really be cognizant of that. There were certain things we couldn’t do, in terms of specific events in the story, how it ended, the need to have funny sidekicks and things like that. We just don’t have to do that. We’ve really approached this as if from scratch we were doing a musical adaptation of ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ for a theatre audience, that is essentially an adult audience and that’s meant that there are things that we could do in terms of storytelling we were just not able to do” in the animated film.

If you have seen this play, you may have already pointed out the differences. That being said, if you did see the production, what did you think?

As to what is next on Schwartz’s list…he would like to see an onstage version of Disney’s “Enchanted.”




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