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Wallace Theater presents Hunchback of Notre Dame at LHUCA Firehouse

The Wallace Theater presents the Hunchback of Notre Dame, based on the musical and book by Victor Hugo, at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts (LHUCA) in Lubbock.

While the Wallace Theater in Levelland remains under construction and undergoes long-awaited renovations, the team at the Wallace has been utilizing LHUCA to continue its season schedule.

This season is based on the theme “Gather” and Anna Hogan, artistic director, has taken special care to choose productions that fit this theme.

“We knew we wanted to do a series of stories centered around the idea of ‘gather,’ and the importance of a community gathering place and community dialouge,” Hogan said. “The Hunchback of Notre Dame touches on a lot of fanatic topics that resonate from late medieval France until now.”

Hogan pointed out that the focus on the Notre Dame in the production is fitting, too, considering the Wallace Theater, a historic building in downtown Levelland, is undergoing renovations.

“Part of the reason I chose this musical is because upon diving into the book, I realized Victor Hugo wrote this story to bring attention to the cathedral of Notre Dame, that had fallen into a state of disrepair and they were looking at making big changes that would alter history,” Hogan said. “This is the perfect way to meld how art and community can come together to preserve the current moment, reflect on the past and prepare us for the future.”

This production is made up of a large ensemble, which consists of approximately 20 to 25 characters who do a lot of “moving around.”

“This is a good opportunity for actors and singers to stretch their muscles and take on a lot of different characters,” Hogan said.

The style of story is told through storytellers, which Hogan points out is also in line with the Wallace’s goal to immerse the audience in the production.

“It’s not super common, but it sets us up to do what the Wallace is good at, which is immersion and breaking the fourth wall to include the audience as a key to the story and become part of the story,” Hogan said. “It lends itself to that interpretation, a more intimate experience for them. Our team was excited about tackling that type of convention.”

The hiring process for the cast and crew was similar to past processes for the Wallace, which consisted of an audition and interview for cast and crew.

“Everyone goes through a vetting process and we cast from a pool of actors who did audition for the show, we saw about 60 actors and casted 22,” Hogan said. “They are all spectacular, they are truly some of the best character actors I have seen in this area.

“They can adapt and play a gargoyle, a statue, or a towns person, and all could play a lead at any point and all have been willing to take on congregation roles,” Hogan continued. “It makes the show good in every facet, bringing such enthusiasm, care and passion. I adore this cast.”

The musical begins as the bells of Notre Dame sound through the famed cathedral in fifteenth-century Paris. Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer who longs to be “Out There,” observes all of Paris reveling in the Feast of Fools. Held captive by his devious caretaker, the archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, he escapes for the day and joins the boisterous crowd, only to be treated cruelly by all but the beautiful Romani woman, Esmeralda. Quasimodo isn’t the only one captivated by her free spirit, though – the handsome Captain Phoebus and Frollo are equally enthralled. As the three vie for her attention, Frollo embarks on a mission to destroy the Roma – and it’s up to Quasimodo to save them all.

In the leading roles, Travis Burge will play the role of Quasimodo, who Hogan said is “not to be missed.”

“When he sings ‘Out There,’ one, the audience will look for him and feel for him,” Hogan said. “His voice, his acting, his physicality and his vulnerability…His physical being kind of manifests the duality between being good and evil. He comes across as a monster but harbors the most pure spirit. Travis brings that duality to the show, it’s beautiful.”

Chase Gibson will play the role of Claude Frollo, the archdeacon.

“He has embraced the character so much and spent a lot of time doing research, coming up with the back story,” Hogan said. “It is a very authentic telling of Frolo, but his voice and his acting is spectacular.”

Mallory Flores will play the role of Esmeralda, a beautiful Romani woman who befriends Quasimodo.

“She is a vision that is so inspiring, and does inspire us to question why things are the way they are and why some people can’t sit at the table,” Hogan said. “And, when she opens our eyes to someday, what could happen when we all come together to see the bigger picture.”

While Hogan said the cast and crew with the Wallace Theater would much rather be performing at home in Levelland, the LHUCA Firehouse Theater has allowed them to utilize new, technical capabilities.

“We would all much rather be in the Wallace, because that’s our home and that’s our end goal, but the biggest asset LHUCA has is the technicality,” Hogan said. “We are able to immerse the audience because of those technical capabilities and even though we’re not in our home, we still get the vibe of the Wallace because of who the actors know us to be and our creative team that kind of brings that to the table.”

The Wallace Theater intends to continue following a seasonal schedule to bring a diverse variety of entertainment for audience and community members.

“We want to honor at least a seasonal schedule, long-term have a main stage season that will cover a year and offer education and other opportunities, including film, concerts, talks, things of that nature,” Hogan said. “We always want to value the intimacy and education aspects of what we’re bringing and we want to bring a variety of entertainment.”

Alycyn Keeling, executive director at the Wallace Theater, said that while the show is taking place in Lubbock, all the hard work and effort came from those right here at home in Hockley County.

“The majority of this show has been produced in Hockley County,” Keeling said. “South Plains College Fine Arts and Dr. Dan Nazworth donated their stage for our last two weeks of rehearsals. The set pieces were built and painted inside the auditorium of The Wallace and we worked with Stuart Moody and the Creative Arts Department at SPC to do special recordings for the show.

“This show is an outstanding example of talented individuals, volunteers, community partnerships, and resources working together to fulfill The Wallace’s mission of ‘Creating Experiences that Entertain, Inspire, and Empower,’” Keeling said. “This will be another event that our community can be very proud of!”

Opening night for the show was Friday, July 15, with more shows set for this weekend and next. The schedule is as follows:
–Friday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m.;
–Saturday, July 23 at 7:30 p.m.; and
–Sunday, July 24 at 2 p.m.

All shows will take place at the LHUCA Firehouse Theater in Lubbock, located at 511 Avenue K in Lubbock.

Tickets can be purchased by going online to https://www.wallacetheater.com/events/2022/the-hunchback-of-notre-dame. The cost is $45 for general admission, $20 for senior and students, $20 for child’s admission, and $100 for VIP admission.

VIP admission includes light bites, beverages, and immersion into the production through seating placed in close proximity to the actors and playspace. VIP seating is limited and are sold by seat, seated family-style around a cocktail table for four. Tickets include light immersion into the show and are front row seats

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