Eagan summer theater presents ‘Hunchback’

Performances to feature local students

Young people from throughout the south metro this month will be performing the Midwest premiere of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” which will combine elements of Victor Hugo’s novel and songs from the Disney animated version.

“This is a huge deal in the musical theater world,” said Jodene Wartman, director of Eagan High School Summer Community Theatre.

She said the script has only been used in five U.S. states and Australia.

It was debuted in Berlin, Germany, in 1999 and ran for three years on their version of Broadway, she said, and was the first Disney musical to premiere outside the U.S.

“Eagan applied for the rights on the day they became available, Jan. 25, 2017,” she said. “So we are indeed the first non-professional community theater in the Midwest to premiere this show – a rarity and honor for any theater.”

She said more than 100 quality musicians auditioned in late May and early June.

Last year, Eagan Summer Community Theatre sold out all 13 performances of “The Little Mermaid.”

“This show is not as kid-friendly as Disney’s other musicals,” Wartman said. “And unlike the cartoon version of ‘Hunchback,’ this show embraces the darker elements of the Victor Hugo novel. However, its simple theme of being an outcast is relevant and timely, as well as the Hunchback’s question to the audience: ‘Who is the monster and who is the man?’ ”

Wartman said the musical score was done by one of the finest in the business — by Alan Menken, whose scores for “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and “Pocahontas” have each won him two Academy Awards.

She said it is very close to operatic with lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, who has written music for “Godspell,” “Pippin” and “Wicked.”
Wartman said the style of the show is similar to the Broadway smash “Hamilton: An American Musical,” in that a troupe of players tells the story, while the choir underscores, continually invoking the dominance of the church during that time period.

Eagan Summer Community Theatre’s artistic staff consists of several Eagan High School graduates and the cast includes graduates and students from many high schools in Dakota County.

Performances will be at 7 p.m. July 14, 15, 19-22 and 26-29 and at 3 p.m. July 16 and 23 in the Eagan High School Auditorium.

Tickets are $15 for adults and students ages 13 and over, $10 for children 12 and under, and $10 for those ages 62 and over.

Visit http://www.eaganhs.portal.rschooltoday.com/page/2590 to purchase tickets or call 651-683-6964 Mondays and Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m.

Contact Tad Johnson at [email protected] or at twitter.com/editorTJ.