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Two weeks ago, Wellesley High School’s Performing Arts Department presented its fall musical production, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Members of the cast, orchestra, and crew came together to create a magical theater-going experience. With creative lighting and impressive sets that evoked 1482 Paris, the leads delivered standout performances that were supported by a large and extremely talented ensemble.
Audience members were impressed by the students’ ability to convey how it feels to be an outcast. When Quasimodo (Ryan Colone in the main cast, A.J. Sivapala in the understudy cast) sang “Out There” and “Made of Stone,” many were moved to tears. Esmeralda’s heartfelt “God Help the Outcasts” (performed by Adriana Chase and understudy Norah Schaefer) was equally moving and beautiful. Frollo’s “Hellfire” (performed by John Muenning and understudy Aidan Bandte) was filled with intense emotion. The dramatic lighting effects during the piece underscored the character’s inner turmoil.
There were lighter moments, as well, especially when Clopin (Michael Ossam) performed “Topsy Turvy,” a lively ensemble number featuring a group of Romani dancers (Sophia Bogdanovitch, Lucy Calcio, Nicole Ceriani, Matt Gray, Leo Harmon, Tommy Hillmer, Josh Musikavanhu and Angela Watts). Phoebus’s “Rest and Recreation” (performed by Joe Fantasia and understudy Nick Ashraf) offered the audience another brief escape from the emotional tension that was building throughout the show.
After the final performance on Saturday night, senior students Adriana Chase, Alexa Kahn, Andrew Stevenson and Gavin Vogel extended their heartfelt thanks to the faculty members who collaborated on the show, including Director Kara Sullivan, Vocal Director Dr. Kevin McDonald, Orchestra Director Steven Scott, Choreographer Janet Sozio, Acting Coach Jessica Rogers, Production Designer/Technical Director Brian McManimon, and Costume Designer Christine Carpenter.
Director of Performing Arts Michael LaCava also spoke briefly, acknowledging that “Hunchback” was McManimon’s final show at Wellesley High School. McManimon then thanked the community for its incredible support during his six-plus years at the school. He said that he will “miss the students terribly,” but is excited about what’s to come. Considering the positive impact he has had on so many students, there is no doubt the feeling is mutual.