New take on a classic story

Full marks to Redgrave Chuch Heritage Trust and director Felicity Humfress for their ambitious and confident production of “Quasimodo”.

As Paquette, the character who has her baby daughter kidnapped, Julia Bunbury gave a convincing performance in an expressive voice possessed of a wide range. Her number “Just this shoe” was deeply moving. In the difficult and heavily made-up role of Quasimodo, Sam Ward scored, his portrayal sensitively under-played. Again, his solo number “She gave me water” was outstanding. Eva Mason as Esmeralda handled some difficult songs in a resonant soprano voice of attractive quality.

Each song carried the story forward. Andrew Rapps’ music for this show lives in the mind. It was too loud on the night of review, sometimes drowning the singers, though without greatly detracting from the show’s impact. Even though the orchestra was competent, medieval churches were not built for modern musical sound, so volume control and acoustics need special consideration in this type of background.

There was first class support from the local cast, especially the chorus, who had some powerful and catchy numbers, particularly “The Judges Song” and “Pay!” It was joyful to see in this musical so much of the story action performed by a well rehearsed ensemble. Careful grouping against the background of a spare but effective set produced colourful scenes at times pleasantly reminiscent of a Brueghel painting. Not a show with a happy feel-good ending admittedly, but a thought-provoking one possessed of depth, drama, emotion, memorable melodies and an overall professional polish.

Jan Wyles.