HUNCHBACK on TV confirmed!

I am VERY excited!!!
Here is the article from!

Disney TV Film of Menken-Schwartz "Hunchback" Begins Production in 2004

14 Jan 2003

"The Hunchback of Notre Dame," the animated Disney film which was converted into a stage musical in Berlin, Germany, will have a third life as a television film.

Director Jeff Bleckner, who piloted the upcoming Disney TV movie of The Music Man, told Playbill On-Line that production work on the classic Victor Hugo story should begin in early 2004.

Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz's film score will be used for the television version. The composers will write some additional material, as well. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who were producers of "The Music Man," "Annie" and "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella" for Disney, will also produce "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Sally Robinson and Bleckner, who penned the TV adaptation of the Meredith Willson musical, will team again to bring "Hunchback" to the small screen.

Bleckner said both he and Robinson took in the Berlin production of Hunchback, which closed on June 16, 2002. No casting has been decided, but Bleckner said he'd be looking for a young Quasimodo, one contending with the sexual urges of puberty.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame closed in Berlin just over three years after it opened at the Musical Theater at the Potsdamer Platz. Stella Ag was the show's German production company.

Back in January 1998, plans were underway to bring the show to Broadway with James Lapine directing. Nothing came of that plan and attention shifted to a live-action, television-movie musical of the material for ABC-TV's "Wonderful World of Disney."

For the stage version, Alan Menken wrote nine new songs to go along with the existing tunes from the film. Stephen Schwartz has penned the lyrics. Based on Victor Hugo's novel about a misshappen man with a beautiful soul who yearns for the world beyond his belltower and falls in love with a gypsy girl, the 1996 animated film was directed by Kirk Wise and Garry Trousdale.


Hey there, Hi there, Ho there,

this is GREAT news!!

I only hope that some of the material that was written for the stage version in Berlin gets used in the movie version too (it has been written with original lyrics in English so this shouldn't be a problem, in fact the rehearsals, which took place in NYC, were even done with the English lyrics the first few weeks).

While I would have loved to see the stage musical version on Broadway I can only say: thank god it didn't open if they really wanted James Lapine to be the director again.

He TOTALLY screwed up the production in Berlin which was one of the causes for it to never live up to the expectations. The whole show was way too dark, had barely any sets and instead relied on technical stunts like platforms moving up and down while the singers where placed on it while projections on those platforms were meant to create a scenery. In fact the show had 0 (in words: zero) atmosphere as far as the staging was concerned.
But I have to admit another factor for it's not so convincing number of guests might have been the ticket prices and the fact that Berlin is a very difficult city for any big musical production (so far all of them had to close due to lower than expected audience numbers), in fact the company who produced the show in Germany, the Stella AG, is bancrupt by now and the theater (but not the show) has been taken over by the Stage Holding which is producing the Lion King and Aida already in continental Europe (by the way: Aida most propably will open this fall in Germany, after the Lion King opened a year ago). Some of you might know the american daughter of the Stage Holding: the Dodger group.

But back to the movie version: it will be very interesting to see what the finale will look like ...

Original novel: Esmeralda dies
Animated Classic: Esmeralda survives and marries
Stage Version Berlin: till only days before the premier the creative team tried out two different endings which both had been rehearsed and completely written and scored, one where she survived and one where she died. In the end they chose to let her die. But ... directly after her death the curtain went down and only seconds later up again. At that point the whole cast was tanding on teh stage and singing a song misxture called "Finale Ultimo" with Esmeralda coming from the rear of the stage and taking over more or less the lead of the song. A very unsual decision as quiet a few guests never understood wetehr she now died or not and why she was now singing a song with everybody else without any theatrical staging the the sense of tellinga story. The problem was: it was obviously no encore as there was not enough time to applaud before the song (the orchestra nearly immediately started with a prelude to the final song) and the bows only came after the song. Somehow it reminded me a bit of Brecht as all the cast cmae up to add a final statement to the story and "wrap it up" but at the same time also revealing they were not the characters they depicted but only actors ... very strange...

So what will they choose for the movie?