Director tries out his acting chops in 5-Star’s ‘Hunchback’

HUMP DAY—Will North stars in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Courtesy of Ed Krieger

HUMP DAY—Will North stars in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Courtesy of Ed Krieger

In one of his first jobs out of college, Will North spent the summer of 1996 performing songs from the just-released Walt Disney film “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at Disney World in Orlando. He played Quasimodo, the deformed bell ringer who longs for acceptance, and got to sing one of the musical’s most stirring songs, “Out There.”

“It’s a touching score and the songs stick with you,” said North, now managing director of 5-Star Theatricals in Thousand Oaks. “It’s got a great message about acceptance and making the world a better place. In this day and age, those are relevant messages.”

Disney transformed the “Hunchback” movie into a stage musical in 1999, and now North is eager to premiere the show in the Conejo Valley. He’ll play Quasimodo when 5-Star’s production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” runs April 20 to 29 in the Kavli Theatre at Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks. For tickets and information, visit the box office or go to 5startheatricals.com.

“Hunchback” marks North’s return to the Kavli stage, where he played Bustopher Jones, Gus and Growltiger in a 2009 production of “Cats.” Back then, 5-Star was known as Cabrillo Music Theatre and North was a working actor.

The “Hunchback” cast features several actors from past 5-Star shows, including Cassandra

Murphy (Eva in “Evita”) as Esmeralda, Greg North (Hook in “Peter Pan”) as Frollo, Justin Michael Wilcox (Smee in “Peter Pan”) as Clopin and Adam Hollick (Joseph in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”) as Phoebus.

“Hunchback,” based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel, features songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. While Disney’s staging of “Hunchback” was quite dark, North promises that 5-Star’s production will mimic the movie.

“I want to take the movie’s lighter tone and bring it to the stage,” he said.