Dominion Theatre, London – until 31 October 2020
To take a beloved film and to transform it into a stage spectacular takes a lot of courage and ambition – which is clearly something that all those involved with this immense production had when coming up with the concept for this show.
Based on the animated film, The Prince of Egypt follows the story of two brothers whose lives take very different turns after a family secret is revealed, with one destined to rule Egypt, while the other having to go on a journey to discover his own people and help set them free.
While the plot is straight forward enough to understand, Philip Lazebnik’s book perhaps doesn’t bring the sense of struggle that both Ramses and Moses face in different ways as they come to terms with who they are or the effect that this secret has on each of them. It can in places lack in a strong emotional core that is really required to make the story convincing.
This being said, Scott Schwartz’s production does fully make the most of the more dramatic elements of the story, particularly during the second act with some dazzling illusions and projections provided by Chris Fisher and Jon Driscoll such as the parting of the Red Sea or a room filled with hieroglyphics and much more besides. Every scene change is handled effortlessly and leads to some genuinely chilling moments as the plagues of Egypt begin.
But it is also the way in which Sean Cheesman uses choreography to such strong effect. There are many different elements of dance incorporated into the story, with dancers even becoming the desert through a contemporary style but then switches to more traditional dances that keeps the dancing varied but also a strong link to the story unfolding. Every move is fluid and beautifully performed.
Stephen Schwartz’s score also soars throughout, from the powerful ‘Deliver Us’ all the way through to ‘When You Believe’ there is plenty of variety to keep the story moving forward – although perhaps it could use less reprises as they don’t seem to serve real purpose. The cast all perform the songs beautifully, with the harmonies really ringing out through ‘The Plagues’ for example.
The production also boasts of a stunning cast, all of whom deliver great personality and strong vocals throughout to keep the audience’s attention focused. At the centre of it all, Luke Brady as Moses and Liam Tamne really effectively highlight how these two brothers grew up together from playful young boys to men who are divided by difficult choices that lead to some powerful confrontations. Their harmonies are also brilliant during ‘Always On Your Side’, with their vocals merging together to create a warm and heartfelt sound.
Elsewhere, Tanisha Spring as Nefertari and Christine Allado as Tzipporah offer powerful portrayals as two equally strong minded women from different backgrounds. But Spring in particular offers a heart rendering performance of ‘Heartless’ that really makes the audience sit up and pay attention while capturing a different side to the character beautifully.
Overall, while there are some elements of The Prince of Egypt that need editing, this is still a vibrant and richly rewarding production that imaginatively brings the story to life.