Food, fun and entertainment: Monticello Opera House

Ashley Hunter
ECB Publishing, Inc.

Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney animated feature, The Hunchback of Notre Dame tells the story of Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer who dreams of a life “out there” as he observes all of Paris. Held captive by his devious caretaker, the Archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, Quasimodo eventually escapes for a day and joins the boisterous crowd, only to be treated cruelly by all but the beautiful gypsy, Esmeralda.
Quasimodo isn’t the only one captivated by her free spirit, though – the handsome Captain Phoebus and Frollo are also enthralled by her beauty. As the three men vie for Esmeralda’s attention, Frollo embarks on a mission to destroy the gypsies – and it’s up to Quasimodo to find his freedom and save them all.
The Monticello Opera House performance opened on Friday, Nov. 8 and will continue to show on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m., until Sunday, Nov. 24. Tickets are $24 and those interested in purchasing a seat at this performance can do so by calling (850) 997-4242.

Jonathan Mathes – Quasimodo
Taking center stage is Jonathan Mathes as the hunchback himself – Quasimodo, the tender-hearted bell-ringer of Notre Dame.
“I love this show; it's beautiful. It means so much to me. It's been a dream role,” says Mathes, adding that he has been an admirer of the Disney movie and its story ever since he was a child.
Set in Paris, Quasimodo is a young man who is partially blind and deaf due to a lifetime of living in the bell tower of Notre Dame. Raised by the cruel Claude Frollo and locked away in the cathedral's tower, Quasimodo is devoted to his task of bell ringer, but yearns for a chance to explore the world beyond his tower prison.
“There's this whole idea in the first song, “Out There,” where he sings about how he just wants to explore the world that is 'out there,'” says Mathes. The desire to experience the world that is just outside his grasp is one that Mathes feels is shared with the audience, and the song showcases the freedoms that the audience may take for granted. “All he has ever known is being locked away in a bell tower; his world is so small, so this idea of being 'out there' and being free is, for him, so much greater than anything we can physically experience.”
Mathes' portrayal of Quasimodo is deeply steeped in that sense of longing and the pain of reclusion that his character feels as he watches the world pass by, without him, each and every day.
“I kind of get swept up in that whole emotion, of him wanting to be out there and what it would be like to be free and experiencing everything that the world has to offer,” adds Mathes.
Mathes has been performing in musicals and singing classically since his years as a high school student. His first on-stage performance was in a Florida State University (FSU) opera when he was in the seventh grade.
Jonathan Mathis is a native of Tallahassee, and has studied vocal performance at FSU.

Rhiannon Karp – Esmeralda
“Esmeralda is a newcomer to Paris and she kinda turns Paris upside down for the better,” says Rhiannon Karp, the leading actress who stars as the beautiful Esmeralda – the woman who captures the heart of Quasimodo, Captain Phoebus and Claude Frollo.
Karp says that the role of Esmeralda has led her to focus on her ancestry and delve into her own family's roots.
While Karp was raised mostly Jewish, her mother is of Middle Eastern heritage – a similarity that Karp shares with her on-stage persona.
Esmeralda is of French Roma descent and called a “gypsy” throughout the production; historically, the Romani are a nomadic ethnic minority who traveled across the Middle East and Europe and frequently faced persecution. Modern descendents still have to battle against long-lived negative stereotypes.
“Being able to connect with my grandfather's Iranian history was something that I never really had to do before, until this role,” says Karp. “I'm really glad to have had the opportunity to push myself to do this.”
Despite being an outsider and outcast to Paris, Karp says that Esmeralda remains a fiery and passionate woman, “unlike anything or anyone Paris has ever seen.”
“She brings a sense of kindness to the town,” adds Karp.
Despite her kindness, Esmeralda is also intense and guided, with a firm sense of right and wrong.
Karp comes to the Monticello Opera House as a classically trained operatic singer and is studying for her Masters at FSU.
Over the summer, Karp resides in New York City, where she works with different off-broadway theater companies as either a performer, education outreach or as office staff.

Sean Tterlikkis – Claude Frollo

Actor Sean Tterlikkis is no stranger to the role of despicable men.
Portraying the role of Dom Claude Frollo, the adoptive father of Quasimodo and Archdeacon of Notre Dame, Tterlikkis states that his character is a “horrible person,” standing in stark contrast to the rest of the cast of hopeful, kind hearts.
“He is a real person with very evil intentions,” says Tterlikkis.
In the past, Tterlikkis has played Bob Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird, and says that the two roles between Ewell and Frollo are “very similar.”
“They are just these horrible, nasty people,” he adds.
A part of his development into the role of Claude Frollo was to grasp the way that Frollo mentally processed his actions, as the character has a cruel mindset that employs deeply rooted racism and harassment towards those who believe or look different from himself.
“Everything he does makes sense to him, despite how cruel it actually is in reality,” says Tterlikkis. “He is bad. There are very little redeeming points [for Frollo].”
While Claude Frollo remains full of hate towards the nomadic gypsy people, he becomes enraptured by the beautiful Esmeralda, who he harasses and then persecutes after she resists him.
While Tterlikkis does little to try and redeem his character, he does acknowledge that the Monticello Opera House performance delves a bit deeper into Frollo's own past.
“In this show, you will see a little more of his journey to becoming the twisted person that he is,” hints Tterlikkis.
Sean Tterlikkis has been acting since he was a high school freshman, where he became the president of his thespian troupe. It was in his senior year of high school when he began performing in musicals.
After nearly 20 productions, this will be his first Monticello Opera House show.

Tristan Ferrara – Captain Phoebus
Since his start as an actor approximately 14 years ago as an eight-year-old in children's theater, Tristan Ferrara has played a variety of roles and performances, and will stride onto the stage as the glorious Captain Phoebus de Chateaupers.
“Phoebus is the Captain of the Guard. He's an alpha male, very in-charge, very confident,” explains Ferrara – but while Phoebus is indeed all those things, Ferrara says it was the character's complexity and layers that drew him to the role.
As the Captain of the Guard, Phoebus is caught between his duty and service to follow the commands given to him and the compelling change of heart he experiences after falling in love with Esmeralda.
While Claude Frollo descends into a cruel madness over his feelings for Esmeralda, Phoebus experiences a change of heart, ultimately siding with the heroes against Frollo.
“You get to see a lot more of him,” explains Ferrara. “Through the story, he really evolves. He falls in love with Esmeralda and falls in love with who she is; I love that shift in who he is.”
Ferrara explains that one of his favorite lines of dialogue comes from a duet that is shared with Esmeralda, and while the entire song, Ferrara says, is beautiful, he is especially drawn to the line of: “Someday, these dreams will all be real.”
“I think it is really beautiful and it really shows how the whole show is relevant to any time period. There has always been themes of oppression and feeling like an outcast in the world, there have always been oppressed groups. But I think that song, it felt like it could be written yesterday or a hundred years ago – it's timeless.”
Tristan Ferrara is a native of Niceville, Fla., but he moved to Tallahassee in 2016 in order to study computer science at FSU.

Angel Coleman – Clopin Trouillefou
Filling the opera house stage as Clopin Trouillefou, King of the Gypsies/Truands, is actress Angel Coleman.
Since her start in musical theater as a sixth grade student, Coleman has been involved in multiple performances and roles throughout the years – but Clopin presents an interesting challenge for the experienced actor.
“Clopin, he's a narrator of sorts. He is kind of an authority figure for the gypsies, but he's also too playful and bipolar to really take himself seriously,” explains Coleman.
Interesting, Coleman notes that prior to taking on the role of the production's narrator, she'd only seen the Disney movie production, not the theater and stage musical, which offers a varied storyline from the well-known 1996 movie.
“I really didn't know that much on how to approach being this character,” says Coleman, adding that through the character study of Clopin, she realized that the role required a lot of physical awareness.
As a sort of jester, the body language which Clopin employs in his scenes requires a lot of thought and effort on Coleman's end. “I have to put a lot of intention into what my body is doing; my body language must be read at any moment,” Coleman adds.
The way Clopin switches between the humor of a jester to the severity of a underworld king in a matter of seconds required a lot of study – and Coleman says her delivery of Clopin's lines has been greatly inspired by famous drag queen and celebrity, RuPaul.
“[RuPaul] can be really serious when he's a man, but when he's in drag, he has this intense fierceness,” says Coleman, adding that it was that duel charisma that has been channeled into Clopin's performance.
Angel Coleman has studied vocal performance at FSU, but currently she is employed as a paraprofessional at a local school for children with emotional behavior disorders, where she is a yoga teacher and science teacher as well as a musical production assistant.