The Prince of Egypt
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz Book by Philip Lazebnik.
The Dominion Theatre, 268-269 Tottenham Court Road, London W11 7AG booking to 31 October 2020.
Mon- Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 45 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0345 200 7982.
Review: William Russell 26 February.
The Dominion has an almost unrivalled track record in providing a home for truly awful musicals and this turgid offering from Stephen Schwartz based on the 1998 Dreamworks animated movie of the same name is a notable addition to the list. It is lavishly dressed, has some impressive projections of Egyptian hieroglyphs, a very hard working ensemble and leads who deserve better songs to sing than they get landed with. But the book by Philip Lazebnik has no dramatic thrust, although the tedious and long first act slightly redeemed in the second half because in that some things – the parting of the Red Sea and the various plagues of Egypt happen. Up to then all one wonders is when the pair of them are going to get together. For reasons that are not clear Jehovah plays little part in the goings on which seem mostly to be about the love affair between Moses and Ramses once they discover they are not really brothers but just really good friends. Since the women in their lives, while glamorous, are a bad tempered bunch one does wish they would take the plunge and set up home together. The world, not to mention the Ten Commandments, which do not feature, might be a better place today had that happened.
At the end the audience got to its feet, but it did not last long – even hardened musical aficionados know when they have just watched a really bad show albeit one in which a lot of talented players are marooned doing their very best to survive.
The dancers probably work hardest, although the choreography they have been given to perform, spectacular to start with, ends up being repetitive in the extreme, choreographer Sean Cheesman appearing to have only about three ideas what to do with them. Director Scott Schwartz fails to keep things moving although the book offers not much opportunity for that to happen. There is a very nice cameo from Gary Wilmot as a benign Midian called Jethro whose bolshie daughter Tzipporah (Christine Allado) decides Moses (Luke Brady) is the man for her. Meanwhile Ramses (Liam Tamne) ends up with a snooty princess called Nefertari (Tanisha Spring). The leads all sing well, but when it comes to acting, given what they have been , fail to do very much of that. Nor are they helped by the costume designer Ann Hould-Ward having opted for a mix of something vaguely Ruritanian, especially for Ramses, with trouser bottoms for the men and cabaret gowns for the women. The chorus get to show their six packs, obligatory these days, dressed in designer rags when pretending to be Israelites and peculiar outfits when being Egyptians. The special effects when they come are reasonably impressive but they do not take the breath away as they clearly should, although there is a nice moment when perched on a pyramid under construction a whip wielding gang boss falls to his death – unfortunately y the wire from which he dangles is all too obvious. The point about effects is one should not know how they are done.
Both Brady and Tamne sing their hearts out and get their front of stage high note moments for the audience to applaud – subtlety is not on display – but to really shine they both need and deserve better material than this.
Schwartz won an Oscar for the undeniably splendid song When You Believe, the ten o’clock song, which comes at the end of Act Two, but by which time one has long since stopped believing in anything except where is the nearest exit route. It does not save the day and the new ones are unmemorable. The Prince of Egypt is in for a limited run which is probably wise in the circumstances.
Yocheved: Mercedes Csampai.
Tuya: Debbie Kurup.
Moses: Luke Brady.
Ramses: Liam Tamne.
Seti: Joe Dixon.
Hotep: Adam Pearce.
Nefertari: Tanisha Spring.
Tzipporah: Christine Allado.
Miriam: Alexis Khadime.
Aaron: Silas Wyatt-Barke.
Jethro: Gary Wilmot.
Hebrews, Egyptians & Midianites – Simbi Akande; Casey Al-Shaqsy; Danny Becker; Paje Campbell; Adam Filipe; Soophia Foroughi; Jack Harrison-Cooper; Christian Alexander; Knight; Jessica Lee; Oliver Lidert; Jay Marsh; Scott Maurice; Carly Miles; Sam Oladeinde; Alice Readie; Christopher Short; Ricardi Walker; Niko Witrachman; Sasha Woodward.
Young Miriam/Leah/Hebrew Girl: Mia Lakha/Iman Pabani/Hannah Selk.
YoungAaron/Young Egyptian Boy/Young Midian Boy: Leo Babet/Jonah Collier/Taylor Jenkins.
Dance Captain: Rachel Ireson.
Director: Scott Schwartz.
Choreographer: Sean Cheeseman.
Music Supervision & Arrangements: Dominick Amendum.
Set Design: Kevin Depinet.
Costume Design: Ann Mould-Ward.
Lighting Design: Mike Billings.
Sound Design: Gareth Owen.
Projectiuon Design: Jon Driscoll.
Illusions: Chris Fisher.
Orchestrations: August Eriksmoen.
Musical Director: David Rose.
Production Photograph: Tristram Kenton.