King of the gypsies

Photo by Ann Gill
KING OF THE GYPSIES—Eli Fitz, a sophomore at Coal City High School, will take the stage as Clopin Trouillefou in the school’s upcoming production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a musical based on Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel of the same name.A

Ann Gill

It’s not often one has the chance to call someone swine, but that is just what Eli Fritz gets the chance to do each time he takes the stage.
As Clopin Trouillefou in his school’s upcoming production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Fritz delivers the line, “a wild bore amongst domestic swine,” and of the hundreds of lines and lyrics he has in the show, it’s his favorite.
“Because you never get to call someone swine,” he said with a chuckle.
The outgoing, quick-witted Fritz says he is a bit like the character he plays when it comes to Clopin’s quick wit and cleverness.
As king of the gypsies, Clopin is a character among those who frequent the streets of Paris. It was the role Fritz was going for when he auditioned for Coal City Theatre Department’s spring musical.
“It’s one of the best roles I’ve had,” said Fritz, who has appeared in a number of school and community productions.
He adds he’s having a lot of fun being a part of the production that is set to take the stage for two weekends in March.
As with any role, there are challenges. For him it’s been keeping up the high energy that Clopin is know for, along with the dancing.
“I’m not the best dancer,” he said, noting he’s been practicing his moves along with his lines and lyrics.
He’s taken some inspiration from production videos he’s seen on-line, but Fritz is creating his own version of Clopin.
He said he’s working to deepen the character and show just how much Clopin cares about his people, the gypsies.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a show that will appeal to a wide audience, according to Fritz.
He said one person who must come to the show is his community choir director Rita Wise.
“She will love the music, and seeing the singing and acting as this is the type of style that appeals to her,” Fritz said.
Along with Wise, Fritz encourages the entire community to come see the show set for March 6-8 and March 13-15 in the Coal City Performing Arts Center.
Reserved seat tickets can be purchased at