A little over twenty years ago, Luc Plamondon and Riccardo Cocciante’s musical Notre Dame de Paris, an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel, opened and set about its way to becoming one of the most successful French musicals in history.
It didn’t chime a chord with critics when it opened in London, with the lyrics translated to English. But later this month, the show is back in town in its original French form, hoping to convince British audiences it’s a show worthy of a space in the West End.
Telling the story of Quasimodo and Esmerelda, the musical celebrated its 20th birthday this winter with a run at Paris’ enormous Palais de Congres. The musical had the audience of thousands on its feet and singing along to songs which have embedded into France’s culture, such as the show’s hit single “Belle” and the rousing “Les Temps de Cathedrales”.
The cast from this Parisian production is on its way to the London Coliseum, where they will perform the show in its original French supplemented by English surtitles projected above the stage. Although it will be an authentic production, changes have been made to cater for British audiences, such as the use of live musicians.
For the most part, Notre Dame de Paris has been performed to a pre-recorded track, but for its return to London the score will incorporate performances from members of the ENO Orchestra – the first time the musical has been performed with live musicians.
Ahead of the show’s one-week run at the Coliseum, we zipped over to Paris to speak to the cast about bringing the musical over to London.