Words: Steve Brown
The story of Moses is one of my favourite Biblical stories of all time. Egypt, plagues, two brothers fighting for what they think is right and the parting of the Red Sea.
Back in 1998, DreamWorks released the animated version of the Biblical story and with that came some of the most iconic songs in movie history – no self-righteous gay man has not heard ‘When You Believe’ by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.
So, when it was announced that there was to be a stage adaptation coming to London’s West End, I was beyond excited.
I would finally be able to see the likes of Moses, Rameses and the rest of the characters brought to life in front of me – I am at this point discrediting the terrible Exodus: Gods and Kings movie with Christian Bale.
Credit Matt Crockett
And when I sat down in the Dominion Theatre, in London, I could hardly contain my excitement as the Overture began.
Then ‘Deliver Us’ begins and wow! I was in my element. The cast brought to life the struggles of the Egyptian slaves with the amazing song and I was truly mesmerised.
Going into the theatre with a huge admiration for the DreamWorks animation, I found myself to be conflicted with the production I was watching.
Luke Brady as Moses - credit Matt Crockett
The characters were all made out to be these lovely people who are struggling with their respective positions in life, including Pharaoh Seti (Joe Dixon) who appeared to be nicer than he was and only uses slaves because that’s what he is told to do.
Even Ramses (Liam Tamne) also seemed to not be happy as the future Pharaoh of Egypt and didn’t want to marry his ‘snob’ wife Nefertari (Tanisha Spring).
The only one who made sense being conflicted was Moses (Luke Brady) after realising he was born a Hebrew.
It felt like the stage production was trying to make everyone a lot nicer than they were supposed to be.
Liam Tamne as Ramses - credit Tristram Kenton
There was no sense of villainy with any of the characters – except for the High Priest Hotep (Adam Pearce). You were supposed to like all of them, something that I personally did not enjoy.
As mentioned, the animated film features some of the best songs ever written for the screen – in my opinion – and the show does not fail to bring these to life.
The performances of ‘Deliver Us’, ‘All I Ever Wanted’, ‘Through Heaven’s Eyes’ and ‘When You Believe’ were done phenomenally.
Gary Wilmot as Jethro - credit Tristram Kenton
‘When You Believe’ left a lump in my front through the powerful performances of the entire cast. It was the best part of the whole musical.
One criticism is the lack of some of the Dreamworks songs. ‘Playing With The Big Boys’ is a fantastic song that was left out of the stage show due to the lack of two high priests… that’s why!
When the plagues soar throughout Egypt, the powerful song ‘Let Me People Go’ in sung in the movie.
A beautiful song that shows the conflict between the two brothers but in the stage adaptation they change it.
They feature some of the ‘Plagues’ song but then completely change it. Why? ‘Let Me People Go’ is without a doubt the best song from the movie and they left it out.
The new songs added to the stage production worked well and were performed exceptionally but they could have been lifted and placed into a musical of their own.
Credit Tristram Kenton
Moses' miracles were also pretty disappointing. The way they were brought to life was very creative by using the ensemble cast - who were amazing - but lacked the magic and mystery of the film.
I did the enjoy production and the performances were amazing. My advice would be not to go in with any expectations of a film-to-stage adaptation.
The Prince of Egypt will run at the Dominion Theatre until September 12,2020.
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