(KendraM) from NASHVILLE, TN
Reviewed on 1/13/2008...
I was not lucky enough to see the original production of this show. But, after listening to the 2 CD version over and over again, I finally bought this.
It's a wonderful show. I do think some of the camera work wasn't great. For instance, the acrobats and dancers are an integral part of this show. They aren't clear here, and are not given equal camera time here. I have heard this show is similar to Cirque de Soleil's shows, but it's impossible to see this when viewing the DVD.
Some of the criticism with this show was that the storyline isn't completely clear. I don't find this to be the case, but I'm familiar with the story. I do think most of it is clear, and viewing the show made me love the music all the more. All of the characters (save Esmeralda, who I'll get to in a minute) are multi-dimensional and, in the 1 1/2 hour showtime, you really get a feel for the anguish these people are all going through. Frollo, in particular, was a real surprise. Instead of being pure evil, one really sees his mental torture. He's even sympathetic at times, except you know all along he will do the wrong thing and cause death and destruction at the end.
Garou (Quasimodo) and Daniel Lavoie (Frollo) are just EXCELLENT. Lavoie's voice is amazing. Patrick Fiori (Phoebus) has a gorgeous tenor. They are all just a pleasure to listen to and watch. Bruno Pelletier, in his role as Gringoire, is perfect.
Fleur de Lys (Julie Zenatti) is wonderful in her small role.
The only real problem I had with the casting was Esmeralda. Her voice is beautiful and she conveys the right emotion in the music. However, part of the problem with this show is that she is supposed to be a gypsy who dances most sensually. It's talked about over and over again. . . the men literally become transfixed watching her. . .mesmerized. We never get to see her dance. Ever. She walks around stiffly and doesn't really move sensually at all. In one of the first numbers she has, "Bohemienne", there is a point where she raises her hands as if she will go into a gypsy dance, but then she doesn't. And, this is a bit of a let down. Is this the director's fault? Is this because Helene Segara cannot dance at all? If she can't dance, then they really needed to show a gypsy dance with one of the cast dancers playing Esmeralda for the interval. This one thing was noticeable enough for me to reduce the 5 stars this show would have received to the four that I gave it.
Also, I thought Helene Segara was made up to look a bit too old for the part. There was just so much makeup, that she didn't look young and innocent. She looked older and harder-- although she is supposed to be young and innocent and unaware of her beauty and the effect she has on those around her. She IS beautiful, yes. But, she she doesn't carry off the innocence at all visually. Noa, who sang Esmeralda on the CD version of this, visually could have carried off the role of Esmeralda even though she's less "classically" beautiful. She's more lithe and dark and has that sensuous body movement that Helene Segara lacks.
Regardless of my criticism here, this is an excellent show and one worth having on DVD.