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Ballet Pulls No Punches

“Hunchback is simply a monster smash”
- Sunday Times (UK)

The Royal New Zealand Ballet is preparing to take its gloves off for the upcoming production The Meridian Energy Season of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

“Forget Disney, this is the story that Hugo wrote, and this is the story that packs the punch. Hunchback grabs your attention, grabs your emotions and puts you through the spin drier”, says UK choreographer and director Michael Pink.

Hunchback reunites the team behind the bloody sensation Dracula and promises to deliver all the theatrical pyrotechnics audiences have come to expect from this top creative line-up.

With his trademark ability to marry dance and spectacular stage effects, Pink’s faithful interpretation of Victor Hugo’s extraordinary tale of love, obsession, lust and betrayal in medieval Paris, is given the blockbuster ballet treatment.

The sweeping dance drama pulses with sexual tension and tragedy, and centers on the gypsy Esmeralda who captivates the hideously deformed Quasimodo and his ruthless master, the Archdeacon Frollo.

“This story and the characters are ideal for dance, most of them have unspoken feelings, situations and tensions that are best conveyed in the silent medium of dance,” says Pink.

The show packs a punch in more ways than one. The show’s realistic fight scenes have been co-ordinated by William Hobbs, a top fight director in theatre and film.

Pink says it was important the action look convincing: “I want the audience to be able to sense it and almost smell medieval Paris. As with Dracula, I’m looking for a total sense of reality that will continue to relate to a new audience whilst remaining true to the classical tradition.”

The production design by award-winning Lez Brotherston recreates the haunting atmosphere of medieval Paris. The three-act ballet includes a real bonfire on stage, a breathtaking Cathedral rose window, and dental prosthetics for Quasimodo. Paul Pyant complements the design with his suitably shadowy and atmospheric lighting.

British composer Philip Feeney has composed the majestic score, which will be performed by the NGC Wellington Sinfonia and Auckland Philharmonia under the baton of Gavin Sutherland.

RNZB National Sponsors, Meridian Energy, is also the Season Sponsor of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Company spokesperson Alan Seay, says that the company has now supported the company through three seasons of dramatic, imaginative works which have enthralled New Zealand audiences.

“First Dracula, then Ihi FrENZy and now The Hunchback of Notre Dame have provided ballet audiences with varied and unforgettable experiences.

“One of the many reasons that Meridian Energy values its partnership with the Ballet is because the creativity that leads to these productions, also leads to extraordinary business solutions. Our partnership helps remind us in our day-to-day business as an energy company, that by bringing our teams together to develop creative solutions we can bring exceptional results for our customers”, he says.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame will open the New Zealand Festival 2002 at the WestpacTrust St James Theatre in Wellington before touring to Napier, Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch and Palmerston North. This will be the first time the ballet, which was first performed by the Northern Ballet Theatre in Leeds in 1998, has been performed in the Southern Hemisphere.

Wellington 22-25 February – Featuring the NGC Wellington Sinfonia
As part of the New Zealand Festival 2002
Napier 28-2 March
Auckland 6-10 March – Featuring the Auckland Philharmonia
Dunedin 15-17 March
Christchurch 21-24 March
Palmerston North 5-7 April


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