Students of Stella Maris were at their lively best during the staging of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"The musical play `The Hunchback of Notre Dame' borrowed more than just music from Disney's animated version of the Victor Hugo classic. The whole production was Disney-inspired the three gargoyles in the bell tower teased and quipped, sang and danced and that meshed well with the energy of the students, making for an entertaining evening. Staged by the Stella Maris College and directed by Freddy Koikaran of Stagefright Productions, the play had live music with excellent piano accompaniment by students Pavithra Rebecca Britto and Nrithya Maria Andrews. Students were also in charge of costumes, make-up, sound and lighting, with Victor Paulraj stepping in to design the fairly elaborate sets.The standout performance was that of Tushna Mistry who appeared to relish the role of the ruthless judge Claude Frollo and played it with panache. Sumithra S. made a good Quasimodo, and portrayed the innocence and vulnerability of the character well, and Namrata Kartik and Deepika Pethe, as gypsy Esmeralda and Captain Phoebus, were equally impressive. The antics of the goofy gargoyles, played by Madhuri Shekar, Aparajita Kar and Praveena Ramani, won over the audience.
Worthy effortWhile the singing was not always perfect, the students have to be commended for their efforts. Their energy carried the day. In particular, Namrata's rendering of "God help the outcasts" was soulful, as was Pavithra' piano playing. The accompaniment for some of the other songs, such as the faster numbers that require more instrumentation, was pre-recorded and didn't pack quite the same punch as those featuring the live piano.
Feel good actThe costumes were simple but colourful and apt, and the sets, with the moving facades and an upper alcove that served as Quasimodo's quarters in the bell tower were good. The direction, except for the unexplained Tamil film hero-esque recovery of Captain Phoebus from a knife wound in the second act was clear and well paced. In keeping with the Disney motif, the play was enjoyable, and whatever it lacked was amply made up for by the students' effervescence.DIVYA KUMAR