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Highlands High School presents ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ |
Valley News Dispatch

Highlands High School presents ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’

Joyce Hanz

Highlands High School presents the only Pittsburgh area high school musical production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” March 29-31.

Based on the French novel by Victor Hugo and songs from the Disney animated feature, this production is the largest to grace the Highlands stage under the direction of Highlands choreographer and musical director, Michael Zeiler.

“We are so excited to present this to the Highlands community,” Zeiler says. “We are proud to be the first high school to premiere Hunchback in Pittsburgh and I chose this musical because it is gigantic. This production is unlike any other. The caliber of music, intense scenes, characterization, the amount of ensemble and students needed—it’s incredible. I am so blessed to have these students and their talent. The students have really owned their characters. They have studied, studied and studied to go in-depth with their characters.

Hunchback tells the story of an outcast and an outsider in Paris.

Quasimodo, the reclusive hunched back man serving as Notre Dame Cathedral’s bell-ringer, is held captive by the sinister caretaker and archdeacon, Dom Claude Frollo. Quasimode manages to escape and explore the streets of Paris one fateful day, joining the gypsies in their Feast of Fools celebration. He encounters a beautiful gypsie named Esmerelda and drama ensues, set in Paris during the 1400s.

Lead roles include: Jake Arvay as Quasimodo, Luna Vavourakis as Esmeralda, Domenik Hurley as Dom Claude Frollo, Kohl Casella as Phoebus De Martin and Jake Peters as Clopin.

Students in supporting roles as gargoyles and statues include: Liberty Vasey, Breea Bonnett, Larkin Richards, Lilly King, Georgia Peters, James Vance, Cole Bergquist, Ryleigh Hendrickson, Sami Ziatyk, Robyn Schreiber and Braden Goldberg.

Senior Jake Arvay trained for months to perfect Quasimodo’s mannerisms and dialect.

“It’s a very challenging role,” Arvay says. “It’s like “caveman speak” how he talks and I didn’t watch the movie too many times because this is different from the movie and I wasn’t a fan of a lot of things in the movie so I did base a lot of my acting from the actual professional cast recording of Hunchback starring Michael Arden. I am very thankful to have gone through all of these years in musical with director Zeiler and I plan to study musical theater in the fall at Shenandoah University.”

Highlands foreign exchange student Luna Vavourakis hails from Belgium and auditioned for her first American high school musical at the urging of her friends. She has more than a decade of ballet training and landed the lead role of gypsy Esmeralda.

“They don’t have musicals like this in school in Europe,” Vavourakis says. “This is really a fun experience for me because I’m not used to this. I always loved being on stage (with ballet) and I love the cast, everyone has been really nice and everyday of musical is really fun.”

The show has a PG rating due to some mature themes.

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” will be performed at 7 p.m., March 29-30 and 2 p.m. March 31 at the high school.


Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

Joyce Hanz | for the Tribune-Review
Highlands High School students Luna Vavourakis as Esmeralda and Jake Arvay as Quasimodo rehearse a scene from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Show dates are March 29-31.
Joyce Hanz | for the Tribune-Review
Highlands High School presents “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” March 29-31.
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