Newsmakers - Hunchback of Notre Dame PHOTO 710X385

13 Jun Hunchback of Notre Dame to be performed at LVA June 13

Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” An All-State Honor production of Disney Theatrical’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame will most certainly be a dream come true for 120 high school students from across Nevada. Out of the 24 participating schools, 19 are in the Clark County School District (CCSD).

Directed by Jennifer Hemme, the Green Valley High School theatre director, the “best of the best” actors and musicians in the state will come together June 13 in the Lowden Theatre at Las Vegas Academy of the Performing Arts for a performance of Hunchback. This will be followed by the entire company flying to Lincoln, Nebraska to perform the musical at the International Thespian Festival, described by Hemme as the “Super Bowl” of high school theatre.

The Nevada contingent will be among a select group of five companies from across the nation to present various plays at the festival, which runs from June 19-25. The festival also features daily workshops led by theatre professionals from across the country, covering everything from acting and singing to dance and improv. Additionally, juniors at the festival can audition for 65 of the top performing arts colleges, and seniors can audition for $40,000 in college scholarships.

Nevada’s participation is coordinated by Nevada Thespians, the state chapter of the Educational Theatre Association, in conjunction with CCSD. Their performance of Hunchback has served as a pilot for Disney Theatrical. According to Hemme, “They want to see how it works with young people, so they choose a high school to put it to life, and then the Disney folks come out and evaluate it.”

From the creators of Wicked and Beauty and the Beast, Hunchback is described as a dramatic and deeply moving retelling of Victor Hugo’s epic story of love, acceptance and what it means to be a hero. Showcasing the Disney film’s Oscar-nominated score with remarkable new songs, this is a bold, highly-theatrical take on the moving tale of the scorned bell-ringer Quasimodo, the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda and the dashing Captain Phoebus in 15th-century Paris.

High school theatre artists from across the state had the chance to audition for this unique and exciting opportunity. Vocalists and pit musicians were chosen from school district honor choir and orchestra programs. These students worked with professional actors and union musicians to prepare for their role in the production.

Hemme can barely contain her enthusiasm for the upcoming Hunchback performances. “The story is phenomenal, the music is out of this world incredible, it is excellent, and very moving.” She added, “It’s also the best of the best high school theatre artists in Nevada performing together, which is really special.”

This is not the first time Hemme has been asked to work with Disney Theatrical. The California native has already done 10 other Disney productions, starting about 15 years ago. “It’s quite an honor but also a lot of responsibility to do justice to the work.”

The Lowden Theatre performance on June 13 will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at www.hunchback.live.

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