A lead performer from the original London production of Notre Dame de Paris in 2000 has claimed critics at the time “killed” the show, as he prepares to star in the musical’s revival next year.
Daniel Lavoie, who played the priest Frollo in the original run and will reprise the role at the London Coliseum in January, said reviewers did not “understand” the show or its style. The show features acrobats alongside its performers.
Lavoie told The Stage working in the UK the first time around had been “tough”.
“The write ups were horrible – they killed us, they totally nailed us,” he said.
However, he said word of mouth had helped to keep the show running for more than year at the Dominion Theatre, and added that critics had not understood the show.
“They didn’t understand what was happening. They were used to a certain style of show and this was something else. Now people have got used to it and it hasn’t aged. It looks great and is full of energy and is beautiful,” he said.
Welcoming its return to London, Lavoie said he was glad it would be performed in its original French language, with surtitles.
“I am happy we are coming back with the French version, which is my favourite version. It’s the one I started with in 1998 and it’s a beautiful version full of nuance, undertones and it’s just great. It’s how it should be done. Like operas in Italian, it should not be translated into English. And the surtitles will make it very legible for everyone,” he added.
Lavoie also said the musical’s story, about people seeking asylum, was relevant today.
“I think it was relevant then, as there were – at that time – people without papers trying to get through. Now it’s worse than ever and message is more important. It moves people. It does convince people there are others out there who need our help and love,” he said.
The production runs from January 23 to 27 at the Coliseum.