2010 – Notre-Dame De Paris

“Notre-Dame de Paris 2010” is an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s famous novel laced with songs from the 1998 Franco-Canadian musical of the same name.

“A few years ago, while visiting or, rather, rummaging about Notre-Dame, the author of this book found, in an obscure nook of one of the towers, the following word, engraved by hand upon the wall: ANArKH.

These Greek capitals, black with age, and quite deeply graven in the stone, […] as though with the purpose of revealing that it had been a hand of the Middle Ages which had inscribed them there, and especially the fatal and melancholy meaning contained in them, struck the author deeply.”

(Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, PREFACE.)

And so I chose to follow the darker thread of the novel, the “fatalité”– ANArKH (doom) aspect because I believe that is what Victor Hugo was most interested in. And the thread of doom is rich as the opening song Le Temps Des Cathédrales recounts: the power of the church supported by the towering cathedrals is being replaced by the power of the printed word (Gutenberg), and, around the corner, the Renaissance will spell the end of the Gothic Age. As for the gypsies, strangers of all kinds and of all nations, their fate is about to change for the worst. The scene between Frollo the archdeacon of Notre-Dame and Phoebus, the captain of the soldiers foreshadows the end of the sacred right of asylum for the foreigners, the minorities, as we would say today. This modern tragedy of segregation culminates in the song Cast Away, at the end, in which the guards exile the pack of gypsies and Esmeralda is hung at the gibet de Montfaucon.

Our story begins when a band of wandering gypsies arrive in the very Catholic city of Paris. Frollo the all-powerful priest of Notre-Dame hates them and the disorder they bring into the city. At the same time, he can’t fight his attraction for the gypsy girls, those “exotic trollops”, and for one in particular, Esmeralda. Blaming his weakness on sorcery the man of God surrenders to his obsession and lets the devil take his soul (in the song Belle). He will attempt everything in his power to have Esmeralda, no matter how dark, no matter how evil. Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer of the cathedral also loves Esmeralda, for her beauty and her kindness. Taking advantage of Quasimodo’s naïve love, Frollo convinces him to abduct the gypsy girl and take her into Notre-Dame where she will finally be at his mercy. Everything is in place for the tragic dénouement: Frollo visits Esmeralda now held captive and proposes love in return for freedom. Horrified by such blasphemy, she refuses. Enraged with his passion, Frollo then delivers her to the hangman at the gibet the Montfaulcon, the royal gallows of Paris. No one can save her. When he understands that Frollo has duped him, Quasimodo hurls him off the top of Notre-Dame. He then asks the executioner to give him Esmeralda’s body. Left all alone in the world, he sings his despair over her body and dies with her.


Kendall AuBuchon – Isabeau, a gypsy
Akasha Banks Villalobos – Esmeralda
Amelia Boldrick – a gypsy
Toni Cruz – a gypsy
Chris Cruz – Quasimodo the hunchback of Notre-Dame
Megan Riley – La Bérarde, the clairvoyant gypsy
Jack Mason – Frollo, the archdeacon of Notre-Dame
Verenice Mondragon – a gypsy
Shelley Sanders – a gypsy
Julie Sturm – a gypsy
Morgan Trigg – a gypsy
Brian Villalobos – a gypsy and Phoebus
Luis Villegas – a gypsy

The Crew

Molly Lynch – costumiére
Ilse Rachut – assistant
Toni Cruz – Quasimodo’s costume
Brian Villalobos – artwork on the program and poster

Created and Directed by Véronique Mazet

Students Speak

“I had a great time seeing first-hand how a play comes together behind the scenes. I thought that the costumes were lovely and very well thought out. I don’t know what we looked like to the audience yet, but it felt like we looked good 🙂 If I could have changed anything, I would just have liked to be able to rehearse on stage a bit more, but I know that was beyond anyone’s control.”
—Amelia Boldrick, a gypsy

“I was happy to participate, with my wife Akasha, in Mme. Mazet’s production of Notre Dame de Paris this past spring. Before that show, I hadn’t stepped on a stage as a performer in roughly six years — it was nice to remind myself of the experience. I am now pursuing that experience with renewed vigor. I’m currently in rehearsals for what will now be my third show since that more-than-half-decade lull, and it began with Notre Dame. Even if I never get to do another, I am thankful. I am thankful, too, to have had the opportunity to share with others, to brush up a bit on my long-dormant (and highly questionable) ‘skill’ with the lovely French tongue, and, perhaps most of all, to perform a vocal duet with my wife, which I had never done in that manner before. Finally, I am thankful to that production — and its champion, the passionate and highly resourceful Ms. Mazet — for the people I met, the good times I had, and the gift, to us all, that it was. I wish her the best. May she continue to give that gift for years to come.”
—Brian Villalobos, “Phoebus”

“Dr.Mazet, Your enthusiasm is contagious! Who wouldn’t want to be part of that energy? Even by playing a quite marginal role in the Notre Dame project, my contribution was genuine and not without its collateral benefits. In helping others rehearse, I found myself the cheerleader to their performance, and would encourage multiple hallway performances until we were exhausted and giggling. I got to know my classmates, have pride in my school, and take other classes with a renewed sense of responsibility. I don’t think that any regalia nor mascot could do what we did by our simple camaraderie of a simple play. Thank you, Madame Mazet. Avec vos projets à l’avenir-bon courage!”
—Ilse Ashbrook

“The semester of my l’illustrestage involvement was one of the most stressful I’ve had in a long while. i learned that no matter how much things suck for you personally, being a part of a group activity and having made a commitment ought to take priority. you dont want to let your cast (teammates?) down… although i cant say i was the best about practicing what i preach…. sorry = (but i didnt forget my lines on performance night!!) As a closing note, this was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve been a part of in a long time! class is class, and work is work, and its not often i allow myself the time and energy to do something strictly extracurricular. everybody involved was absolutely amazing, and i enjoyed the fact that we all had radically different outside lives but managed to come together for a common purpose, and one we werent required to be involved in. i am incredibly excited to take part in l’illustrestage‘s next project!! i LOVED meeting the new friends i made in the cast.”

“I’m a student majoring in French, but was undecided on my major until after completing French ll and the amazing play which I performed in. Given the limited amount of time, funds, and space, we had a full audience our opening night. Unfortunately, it was our only performance with our limited resources, but, fortunately, it was amazing. Everyone that I call ‘fellow actors’ were fun to socialize and work with. With the direction from our ‘Coach’ and our mature and friendly bunch, the whole project came together pretty seamlessly. The thrill of experiencing another culture, then showing it to others and having them watch in awe was, well, awesome. Plus, the whole cast watching the performance a couple of months later to see what was great (a lot) and what could be worked on (not much) really showed me that French is something I want to work with and be a part of in my life. If there is another play, I will most certainly volunteer again in a heartbeat.”
—Morgan Trigg

“I never thought that taking a French course at ACC would land me onstage, dressed as a gypsy and singing about Notre Dame de Paris. Yet I had exactly that opportunity last spring as Dr. Mazet’s spectacle arrived and all her students, as well as anyone who wanted to participate, were given the chance to shine and share their talent. I greatly enjoyed my experience with the play. I had never done anything like it before, and yet my inexperience was embraced by my ‘coach’ and all my fellow actors. I loved that the cast was so welcoming and I learned so much about the hard work and dedication that goes into such a production. The whole experience was very inspiring and I particularly found it refreshing to be able to escape the stresses of daily life (school, job) to connect with my inner Francophile and learn about so much about theater. I am so glad I chose to be a part of the show- the experience has filled me with many unforgettable memories!”
—Julie Sturm

Audience Response

“What a delightful performance! Congratulations to the cast for a show well done! It was unfortunate that the venue couldn’t accommodate the crowd that was eager to watch this worthy musical. Even with the obviously limited budget (ie sceneless and virtually propless) the costumes were exceptionally well done and authentic. Kudos for providing all in attendance an entertaining evening.”
—Specator and mother of one of the gypsies

“Thanks, Véronique, for a well-written play and an entertaining performance! The bilingual nature of the play made it easily accessible to everyone and a rewarding experience for French language learners. The carefully thought-out details of costume, song, and dance also contributed to the enjoyment of the play.”
—Amy Cepparo, FOLA adjunct faculty

“Notre-Dame de Paris was very well done. I was impressed by the acting of the students who participated, and the musicianship of the actors. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I walked in a an extremely packed theater and had to sit on the steps by the exit… but it was worth it! I felt for Quasimodo, my heart broke for Esmerelda, and hated the cruelty of the priest. I enjoyed it very much.”
—Jake Franklin, French 4 student

“I want to say that I enjoyed your latest theatrical event Notre-Dame. It was colorful and fun to watch. The singing was lovely, especially the duet. What a great way to end this spring 2010 semester.”
—Raquel Gavia, professor of French

“I really liked the story and I thought that the actors did a great job telling it.”
—English speaking spectator

“My wife and I really enjoyed the Notre-Dame production! It was a fun evening and it was obvious that a tremendous amount of work and preparation went before. We realize that, for the most part, the actors were not experienced drama ‘pros’ but, nevertheless, you guys put on quite a show. I thought the program was particularly helpful in explaining the story and it was very interesting to read about the backgrounds of the actors. The work that went into the preparation of the program was well worth the effort. I didn’t understand a lick of the French that was spoken during the play but that did not impede (at least I don’t think it did!) my understanding of the play. The occasional French phrase/dialogue just added to the authenticity of the production, without leaving the non-French speaking audience in the dark. Well done. Frankly, I was surprised at the professionalism of many of the actors. Esmeralda and the evil priest were particularly impressive and I think the group singing was well done. After awhile, you forgot you were watching a bunch of ACC students and just enjoyed the story. I think it’s a shame that all of that effort was for just ONE show! It deserved at least two or three runs and that would have given more people an opportunity to enjoy it, perhaps in less crowded conditions.”
—Raymond Sturm, spectator and father of one of the gypsies

“Bonsoir Mme. Mazet. Bravo on completing another performance! This is the second time I have seen and enjoyed an Illustre-stage play, again in a packed theater. I was happy to see that you had chosen The Hunchback of Notre-Dame as your source this time, as many of us are unfamiliar with the story. Akasha and Jack were impressive in their confident portrayal of Esmerelda and Frollo. The costumes were great, and the music complemented the events onstage. The French/English hybrid of the dialogue imparted a French personality, while allowing a mostly English-speaking audience to follow the plot. The program handout was also helpful to understand both the original novel and the focus of your play. As a former French student and Illustre-stage performer (Spectacle dans un Bistro, 2002), I appreciate the time involved in organizing, editing, orchestrating, and rehearsing. Thanks to you and the cast for your efforts. Looking forward to next year’s spectacle.”
—Brandon Backlund