Popular films are getting revived, with musical versions for the stage. Often, these tend to divide people, especially if songs from the film aren’t used in the musical version. Some, like Mean Girls, get a bit of a modern overhaul to appeal to younger audiences, while others stick to their roots and don’t change.
It’s now the turn of Dreamworks’ film The Prince of Egypt to be translated into a stage production. Philip Lazebnik’s book is a story of two halves, beginning like a traditional fairy tale and then descending into a biblical tirade that is somewhat of a surprise. Although one Prince is called Moses, it isn’t instantly clear that this is the tale of how he led the Hebrews out of Egypt. While there’s no denying that the subject matter is gruesome, in places it’s perhaps a little too dark and bloodthirsty for a family audience.
The majority of Stephen Schwartz’s songs are instantly forgettable, although there is variety in the songs, allowing for a nice range of voice types throughout the show. Footprints on the Sand is nice and Deliver Us is quite powerful (and dark) for an opening number.
Acting, for the most part, is appalling with poor inflexion, positioning and delivery. At times, it feels like a pantomime, and the actors do not seem to embody their characters, merely speak lines from a script.
There are some standout performances and When You Believe, sung by Christine Allado (Tzipporah) and Alexia Khadime (Miriam) is heartfelt and beautiful. It’s rather a shame these two performers are limited with their stage time, as they are the only reason to stay for Act II.
The other redeeming part of this production is Sean Cheeseman’s choreography. The dancers create a mesmerising backdrop, with each one casting their own spell, as they move and flow like sand.
With a confused story, poor performances and mediocre songs, The Prince of Egypt is extremely disappointing.
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes
Photo: Matt Crockett