Theatre Sarnia staging Canadian premiere of ‘Hunchback’

Cathy Dobson   

“How incredible is this?” asks Adam Hobbs, the Sarnia actor playing Quasimodo in Theatre Sarnia’s upcoming production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

“Our production is the Canadian premiere and we’re listed on the Wiki page with the cast members’ names.”

Indeed, even before the curtain rises Oct. 20 at the Imperial Theatre, Wikipedia has listed the Sarnia show as the first Canadian performance of the stage musical and that it kicks off the venerable company’s 91st season.

“It featured a relatively small cast of 19 with a choir approximately double its size,” the online encyclopedia notes, adding, “The show featured Brent Wilkinson as Dom Claude Frollo, Olivia Gogas as Esmeralda and Adam Hobbs as Quasimodo.”  Virginia Reh is director.

Playing the hunchback Quasimodo was a part that Hobbs, a professional actor and Sheridan College theatre grad, had hoped to land for years.

“I was in Toronto when Theatre Sarnia announced it would do Hunchback and I started rehearsing right away,” said the 31-year-old. “I worked on “Made of Stone” every day so I was ready and focused at the audition.”

Hobbs, who grew up in Sarnia and later worked for 10 years with Suitcase Theatre in Toronto, has returned home for the time being to participate in local theatre and teach singing and acting. He was recently elected to Theatre Sarnia’s board of directors.

“I’m really proud of the work everyone has done on this show,” said Hobbs. “When you have a show as big as Hunchback, and it’s the premiere, you want it to be grand.

“I can honestly say everything from the costumes to the set and the props are grand.  Everybody is taking it very, very seriously.”

In the Victor Hugo classic, the deformed bell ringer is shunned and despised by all until he meets the beautiful Esmeralda.

This is not the “happy, plucky” animated version that Disney brought out in 1996.

“This show draws a lot more from the 1831 novel, which was very dark,” said Hobbs. “This is definitely not a kids’ show. We won’t be doing school shows for this one.

“There are mature themes like the power struggles between Quasimodo, Esmeralda and Frollo. Frollo was Quasimodo’s master and the relationship was abusive.”

Hobbs said he has dreamed of the role since hearing the score at the age of nine.

“The music really made me fall in love with it,” he said.  “Out There is a classic. I’ve been singing it most of my life.”

Hell Fire, which speaks to the darkness in Frollo, Top of the World, Made of Stone and Bells of Notre Dame are also favourite numbers.

IF YOU GO:

WHAT:  Theatre Sarnia’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame

WHEN:  Oct. 20 – 21; 25 – 28 at 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 22 matinee at 2 p.m.

WHERE: Imperial Theatre

TICKETS:  $40, by calling 519-344-7469 or at the box office, 168 N. Christina.