Fringe Box



Stage Dragon: The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 5 Jun, 2024
Updated on: 7 Jun, 2024

By Ferenc Hepp

Updated with images…

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a musical with music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, adapted from a 1996 Disney film of the same name, which in turn was based on the 1831 novel by Victor Hugo.

Photos show Guildford School of Acting students performing The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. Photos by Steve Gregson.

You can trust graduating Guildford School of Acting musical theatre and production students to put on a good show, and this is no exception.

Nigel West, with many impressive worldwide directing credits, takes charge, and even pays homage to the events of 2019, when Notre Dame was damaged by a huge fire, and someone appeared from the crowds, reading a book on the scaffolding where he has a vantage point of the treasured building.

This is how the performance opens, and this young man becomes the protagonist of the story, Quasimodo.

Guildford School of Acting

Hugh Cotton gives total commitment to this challenging role, with a sense of innocence and a journey that is clear to follow and makes us empathise with his character.

One of the highlights in Act One is his number Out There which he sings to himself, yearning to spend one day outside Notre Dame.

Another hard-working member of the cast is Alex Laughton as Frollo, the Archdeacon of Notre Dame, although he could have been more intimidating and overpowering as his character.

Esmeralda calls him a “monster”, but he is somewhat too nice and restrained for this label.

Aaron-Jade Morgan takes the role of Esmeralda and gives one of the stand-out performances as part of the gypsy gang.

Morgan’s voice and characterisation are exceptional, and her expressive eyes in the number God Help the Outcasts, combined with her great vocals are a joy to watch.

The highly trained voices and characterisations, however, are not restricted to the principals. The ensemble provide a fantastic support to the leading characters; they each have their clearly defined personalities, but also work extremely well together as a group.

The choreography by Rachael Kerridge is perfect for the style of the piece and faultlessly performed by the students.

Another young performer who gives a notably excellent performance is Shania Montevalde as Clopin Trouillefou.

Her energy and commitment are extraordinary, and she completely brings the Feast of Fools alive with a great performance, which was her intention, according to her programme notes.

However, none of this can be achieved and enjoyed as much as the very enthusiastic audience did on Monday night, without the support and skills of a top-class production team.

Guildford School of Acting

Roger Ness is a highly experienced production supervisor, and his set design captures the mood of this piece perfectly, with a backdrop and performing space that allow smooth scene changes which do not interrupt the pace of the show.

Tom Turner’s musical direction brings out the highly enjoyable and varied score to its maximum potential.

John Rainsforth’s lighting design provides the perfect mood in every scene, and Tara Usher’s costumes fit the theme with colours and styles that are a joy to watch, and the cast seem very comfortable in.

Guildford School of Acting

It is always a pleasure to see something that is not often performed and not familiar to me, and Guildford School of Acting has certainly given this piece justice with a fantastic performance, with a West End standard on and off-stage team, who will undoubtedly go on to have successful careers in the future.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame runs until Saturday, June 8, and tickets are available via or 01483 440000.

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