Cast members of the Paradise Community Theatre’s production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” will take the audience back in time to the 15th century.
As the bells of Notre Dame sound through the famed cathedral in Paris, the story of Quasimodo, played by Owatonna native Cody Jensen, unfolds.
The hunchbacked bell-ringer of Notre Dame desires to be a part of the outside world one day, and drums up the courage to attend Feast of the Fools. He meets a compassionate gypsy Esmeralda, played by Jenna McMains, who protects him from an angry mob.
Quasimodo’s master, the archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, played by Patrick McColley, and the new captain of the guard, Phoebus de Martin, played by Jason Meyer, also both fall in love with Esmeralda.
Six performances follow Friday’s opening for attendees to find out if Quasimodo will be able to save Esmeralda from Frollo’s lust and anger before Paris is burned to the ground, if she will return Quasimodo’s affection and see who the “true” monster of Notre Dame is.
The musical is based on the Victor Hugo novel and includes songs from the Disney animated feature as well as some new songs. The local production is directed by Shelley Fitzgerald and choreographed by Jordyn Tesch.
The cast includes over 30 members, whom McMains said are all “very” talented.
“They always put a great show together, with good cast,” McMains said of the Paradise Community Theatre.
Having performed in a previous Paradise Community Theatre show in 2017, “Beauty and the Beast,” McMains said this musical has that “same Disney magic.”
The cast also includes ensemble members who play statues and chorale members who play gypsies.
“If you want to see amazing costumes, stage and music, come see a performance,” McMains said. “Both the lead roles and ensemble play an important role in the play, and do such a good job of telling the story.”
McColley, who is experiencing his first full show on the Paradise stage, said there is a “crazy” amount of talent among the cast and all members have important roles in the musical.
“It’s been a great experience. Everyone has been welcoming, and it’s really cool to be in this space,” McColley said.
Among the bell tower filled with stone figures and a solitary Hunchback are three bells rented from the Grand Rapids Theater.
Paradise Community Theatre producer Kathy Rush said the other theater had planned on producing the musical, but the pandemic caused the cast to leave the musical unfinished. Rush said a cast member came across a post about the bells online, and directors reached out to see if they could use them.