It was the opening night of Fullerton College’s production of “A Chorus Line” in Mar. 2020. As the actors prepared for their first performance that evening, news broke that the show would not go on. Instead, the campus would close that night and a nationwide stay-at-home order would begin one week later.

After two years, the theatre arts department is in rehearsals for their first musical since the start of the pandemic, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

Though the original publication, a French Gothic novel written by Victor Hugo, was written in 1831, director Timothy Espinosa said the story is still relevant today.

“With everything that we have gone through in the last two years, the confluence of the pandemic, Black Lives Matter, the social injustice that we are experiencing across the country in various institutions, this show, the themes of this show, really gets to the heart of where we are as a society,” Espinosa said.

Taiyo Inoue, Jon Armijo and Colin Pinedo rehearse a musical number during the first week of rehearsals for "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

Taiyo Inoue, Jon Armijo and Colin Pinedo rehearse a musical number during the first week of rehearsals for "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Photo credit: Fullerton College Theatre Department

With the Omicron variant peaking, there could be some worry for the actors’ safety. This is a large production of actors and musicians. Espinosa said, “We just recently had one student contract COVID, but obviously we are prepared and have every protocol in place. For example, if a student has to miss due to testing positive for COVID, we have a live camera feed set in the back of the house. That student is at home on Zoom, rehearsing with the cast in real-time.”

Marty Austin Lamar, the musical director, conducts the cast in a musical number.

Marty Austin Lamar, the musical director, conducts the cast in a musical number. Photo credit: Fullerton College Theatre Department

This production is anything but small. With a cast of 20 students and a choir of 30 to 40 backing up the actors and singers on stage, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” will undoubtedly impress the audience. Combining the theater department, musicians, and singers to create one unified performance is a conscious choice to unify the students and the community of Fullerton once again.

Taiyo Inoue and Colin Pinedo rehearse a pivotal moment in the show.

Taiyo Inoue and Colin Pinedo rehearse a pivotal moment in the show. Photo credit: Fullerton College Theatre Department

Espinosa emphasized the importance of the fine arts division uniting, “We really feel like this is the kind of show that can communicate to our community, our audience, and our students, that fine arts at Fullerton College is back, and we are here to show our unification across art, music, and theater. We are one, we are unified, and we are here to support our students.”

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is expected to open Thursday, Mar. 10, and will run for one weekend.

“The message of what it means to be an outcast and how love triumphs overall, it’s a really powerful message. A message I think the audience really needs to hear,” Espinosa said.

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He/Him/His Nick is a film production major. He has his BA in Theater writing and directing from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.