Musical theatre offers a tremendous range of entertainment options. Some shows are simple—with a unit set, a small cast, and perhaps a single keyboard accompanist. Others—like SBMT’s current production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame—pull out all the stops to create an unforgettable spectacle. When you’re working with a team of volunteers, that’s a remarkable accomplishment, and now that the show has opened, we wanted to give a well-deserved shout-out to the huge team behind the scenes so you can more fully appreciate what goes into a production this rich.
Such a massive production requires many hands to execute, and I am surrounded by a team that truly epitomizes the phrase, ‘I could not have done this without them.’
One of choir members, Keith Pennings, put together a three-minute video showing what happened at the “Sitzprobe” rehearsal nine days before the show’s gala opening night. (Sitzprobe is a German term used in opera and musical theatre to describe a “seated rehearsal”—the literal translation of Sitzprobe—where the singers sing with the orchestra, focusing attention on integrating the two groups. It is often the first rehearsal where the orchestra and singers rehearse together.) He intercuts shots of the company’s early dress rehearsals to paint an illuminating picture of a work-in-progress as all the pieces begin to fall into place. Caveat: As impressive as this is, the final finished product is even better!
In the Hunchback program, Director Dave Leon gives some context behind the story we are about to see, and likewise pays tribute to all of the many talented hands it took to bring the musical to fruition. He writes:
Who doesn’t want to belong? Whether it’s within our families, our circle of friends, or even with work colleagues, it is inherent in our nature as humans to want acceptance. That is why I feel Quasimodo’s story is universal. All he wants is a friend; someone to accept him for who he is; to belong.
This story, coupled with the show’s glorious score, resonated with me on a level that few other musicals have. Diving into the show headlong only intensified that resonance. There is so much more to Hunchback than Quasimodo’s journey. Themes of isolation, revolution, and religion all play a part in the show’s narrative.
Such a massive production requires many hands to execute, and I am surrounded by a team that truly epitomizes the phrase, “I could not have done this without them.” Each member of the staff has gone far above and beyond the scope of their jobs, and I am grateful to them all for their efforts.
Hunchback can very easily get crushed under its own spectacle, but the cast has done a wonderful job of finding the little moments that ground the show in a real, human, believable base. You will not be disappointed with their work. I am proud and humbled to have worked with such a dedicated group of people.
It is my hope that this story resonates with you the way it does with me. You are in for a treat. —Dave Leon
Opening weekend audiences agreed, and rewarded the performers with standing ovations and sold-out houses. When you come to see the show (and we hope you get your tickets before they are all gone), be sure to join us in applauding not only our remarkable cast, but also the orchestra and choir, who create what one amazed patron called “a wall of pure sound.” Tickets, as always, can be obtained online at southbaymt.com or by calling 408-266-4734.
HUNCHBACK ORCHESTRA: (click to enlarge) Seated, from left: Kathy Switky, D. Asa Stern, Sarah Moulder. Standing, from left: Joe Kelly, Monica Bugaoan-Abakan , Faye Yang, Peggy Liu, Marilyn Anderson, Kathleen Harley, Judy Diamond, Tim Dowd, Susan Schadeck, John Fitzhugh, Karen Adkins, Warren Necoechea, Martha Garcia. Not pictured: Warren Scott, Cliff Mercer, Paul Olivo, David Dufour, Israel Santiago.
HUNCHBACK CHOIR: (click to enlarge) Front row, from left: Natasha Medeiros, Janet Miller, Tj Paganini, Barbara Reynolds, Jaime Walker. Second row: Mary Melnick, Barbara Heninger, Jennifer Medeiros, Jennifer Seguin, Christy Wait, Puukani Tiwanak. Third row: Diane Milo, Megan Pittman, Cami Jackson, Derek DeMarco, Brittany Hatch, Ben Hatch, Daniel Burns, Johnny Moniz, Kaeo Tiwanak. Back row: Jennifer Packard, Ron Packard, Dallas Carter, Walter M. Mayes, Steve Sammonds, Michael Johnson, Andy Gipson, Jason Herrera. Not pictured: Vanessa Alvarez, Libby Moore, Molly Thornton, Chris Nasser, Keith Pennings.
(Photos by Scott McClelland)