Something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while, but kept putting off, until today because the day feels right.
Welcome to the casting couch! Where I take some of my favorite musicals and dream up my perfect cast.
Today we are looking at Notre-Dame de Paris, lyrics by Luc Plamondon, music by Riccardo Cocciante, based on the novel by Victor Hugo. The show has 7 named signing parts: two females, Esmeralda and Fleur-de-Lys, and five males, Frollo, Gringoire, Quasimodo, Phoebus and Clopin.
This show was played in London for a couple of seasons, and a shorter version was mounted in Las Vegas for about the same amount of time, and if I remember correctly, there was talk of taking it to Broadway, but that never happened.
Say the show was returning to London, and I had a chance to choose the cast. Who would I pick?
For Esmeralda: Samantha Barks. She’s a great singer, she can hit both the high and the low notes (this part is actually really hard, and I can understand that they cut the first part of the Bohemienne song, to remove the really low notes and allow the directors to cast sopranos as Esmeralda, but I don’t have to like it) and she’s really beautiful; I would have no problem believing that three guys fall head over heels over her face.
For Fleur-de-Lys: Katie Hall. This is a soprano part, who’s on stage for a very short amount of time and has to show a great deal of development, going from wide-eyed ingenue to dark and fierce scorned woman. From what I’ve seen of Katie Hall, she can handle it. And I love her voice so much, I want to see her in everything.
For Frollo: Earl Carpenter. This character is a combination of the blind righteousness of Javert and of the obsessive lust/love of a Phantom, and Earl Carpenter happens to be one of my favorite actors to have played both parts.
For Gringoire: Killian Donnelly. This character opens the show, and the actor playing him needs to grab the audience with pretty much nothing but his voice. That voice needs to be extraordinary. Killian Donnelly’s voice is extraordinary.
For Quasimodo: Fra Fee. The role was written for a new singer (at the time, of course, he’s become a superstar since) who was a very strong, powerful baritone, despite his young age. (He also had a very peculiar, gravelly voice, but you can’t ask for everything). Fra is another young singer who is a strong, powerful baritone, and I love his voice.
For Phoebus: Alistair Brammer. This part calls for a Disney Prince kind of voice, and he has it. Also, he’s good-looking, which is helpful when one plays a part who has multiple characters attracted to them.
For Clopin: Ramin Karimloo. The part was created by a rock singer, who brought a lot of raw energy on stage, which Ramin Karimloo can certainly bring. The part is also canonically stated to be a person of color, and this Iranian-born actor qualifies.
I also have a Broadway dream cast for this show, but it needs some work. So that’s enough for tonight.