A powerful new play is coming to The Holly in downtown Dahlonega. Hunchback of Notre Dame will dig deep to explore "What Makes the Monster and What Makes the Man". This play contains a deep, philosophical message, but still audiences will enjoy a richly entertaining performance with a huge cast. "Hunchback" is setting a new standard for The Holly -- set design and technical aspects of the production are at higher levels than ever before. And the voices, raining down from the rafters will astonish you. We had a chance to interview technical director and production manager Patrick Rose for this blog.
Q. -- Please give us the background of how the set design for this play came to be …
A -- The idea is that we wanted to create an environmental piece. The staging is around the audience – we're not just playing to an audience, the staging becomes part of the audience, and the audience is very much part of the play -- not just on stage, but everywhere..
The idea is what you are looking at is the cathedral and a bell tower (there will be three working bells and five bells total in this performance) – so the balcony is an acting space, these platforms are acting spaces, the stage is an acting space, and the aisles are acting spaces.
We actually have the lead gypsy doing stunts, like climbing and hand-walking over the chairs – even doing backflips.
It's going be an experience. When you buy a ticket for this show you’re not just buying a ticket for a show – you’re actually going to be part of the show. And we encourage people to come multiple times because, depending on where you sit, you’re going to get a different experience.
Q -- Those who know theater are probably familiar with names like Quasimodo and Frollo but what is this show really about.
A -- This show is about how we come together as a community – so we thought that just giving a performance was not enough -- we wanted to kind of hug the audience with the story. The idea is that we had to do something as big as what’s written -- it’s like Phantom of the Opera – you can’t do that without music that complements that heightened emotion.The set and staging is a key component in that.
Q -- As with all Holly plays, this is entertainment -- this is a powerful musical. But are you saying this goes beyond that?
A -- We want it to be bigger. I hope it is – the goal is to be a launching point for discussion about art and our responsibility as a community – that’s what I want people to come away with – some sort of empathy for every character in the show. This show definitely puts you into other people’s shoes and forces you to look at yourself. It's not a political statement. Is it a political statement to say that you should love another human being? I don’t think that’s a political statement – I think that’s a statement that everyone could agree with. The message is to be generous, be honest and be compassionate.
Q -- This set looks spectacular. Is it a stretch from most other set designs?
A -- This is our most extensive set yet – our biggest budget ever for a set. We’re going to max out everything – and this is sort of the future for the theater. We really want people to come into our space and feel like they’re part of something and get really excited about it and know that things can change. This is going to be different. We want Dahlonega to be a destination for the arts -- we are that to some extent already with people coming up for the weekend for wine, festivals or antiques – but we also want them to come into the theater and go "wow, we didn’t know this was here”.
Q -- How is this show being promoted?
A -- We've come up with a creative way to announce that the set is up – we're going to record the actors’ reaction to the set. We will do that for tech once we have everything finished – photograph and video their reactions as they come in and post it on Instagram. Bells are going to go in the air – three working bells – five bells past the lighting rig, and a crucifix about five feet tall that’s going to be mounted on the balcony rail. The cast consists of five main characters plus an 18-person choir.
This play is an epic for sure – the music is chamber music, so if you like gothic era – like contables – mostly in latin -- you're gonna love it!
Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber & Visitors Bureau | 13 South Park Street | Dahlonega, GA 30533 | (706) 864-3711 or (800) 231-5543.