The Dominion Theatre on London’s Tottenham Court Road is vast; a huge auditorium that needs a big show in it and the Dreamworks production of the animated film The Prince of Egypt – with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Philip LaZebnik – is precisely that. Incorporating massive video playback screens that wrap around the entire side walls of the stage and into the seats, the majesty of this production is actually overwhelming, and spectacular. Projected on to the screens are the temples of an ancient land; gigantic drops of floating curtains and a raised platform adds to the splendour and grandeur of Kevin Depinet’s set.
Add into the mix Mike Billings’ lighting design and Ann Hould-Ward’s stunning costumes and you may think this is going to be more style over substance, and to some extent it is. Schwartz is a clever lyricist and expertly knows how to construct songs that act as fantastic plot advancement devices. It is Sean Cheesman’s well researched choreography that has to be applauded; his cast move with a sexual chemistry that is pure class creating shapes that are dramatically evocative of the indigenous people the characters are based around.
I did struggle with the rather stilted and wooden between the scenes dialogue that LaZebnik laced with a comedy element that was totally out of place and which generated a nervous response from an audience that seemed to question why the banality of this dialogue was being spoken in the first place. If it was to counterbalance the songs and the special effects that were now coming at us at full throttle, then it totally misfired.
Luke Brady as Moses and Liam Tame as Rameses were both formidable. They each had huge range delivering powerhouse vocals that matched what was going on around them. This is a bromance and with well rounded and sensual performances by Christine Allado as Tzipporah and Alexia Khadime as Miriam as the ladies in their lives, the poetic licence and the liberties taken with the biblical timeline were easily forgotten.
There is no arguing that this is a spectacular show with a clear and I think planned Las Vegas feel to it. For me it just did not quite work with the exception of the show-stopping rousing finale of the hit song “When You Believe” and if Allado and Khadime were inspired by Whitney and Mariah who sang the song from the original film, then hats off to them as that was a redeemable quality brought to the show that had to be respected.
Exhilarating and joyous in places and if the message at the heart of the musical is that the human spirit is to be celebrated, I concur; I was just a bit dumbfounded that despite an excellent cast they were let down by the material.
Photos by Tristram Kenton