Kedar K. Adour

Performing Arts Reviews

The Prince of Egypt musical has great moments with dance and staging.

The Chariot Race. (l-r)Moses (Diluckshan Jeyaratnam) & Rames (Jason Gotay) Photo Kevin Berne

The Prince of Egypt: Musical based on the DreamWorks Animation film. Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Book by Philip LaZebnik. Directed by Scott Schwartz. TheatreWorks, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View.  (650) 463-1960 or visit www.theatreworks.org.    October 6–November 5, 2017

The Prince of Egypt musical has great moments with dance and staging.,Rating: ★★★★☆

The story of Moses is legend permeated with truth and fiction. Twenty years ago Dreamworks created a fanciful animated film The Prince of Egypt with music by the incomparable Stephen Schwartz who wrote the score for “Wicked,” “Pippin” and “Godspell.” This past weekend the world premiere of the musical The Prince of Egypt based on that movie received a stunning but flawed opening by TheatreWorks at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts in collaboration with Fredericia Teater, Denmark. It is a visually stunning production that overshadows the story.

Stephen Schwartz has kept many of the film’s original musical numbers including, “Deliver Us”,    “All I Ever Wanted”, “Through Heaven’s Eyes”, “The Plagues” and the inspiring “When You Believe” adding operatic like others with story forwarding recitative.

It is the epic biblical story in the book of Moses leading the Hebrews’ escape from Egypt found in the Book of Exodus. It starts with the ensemble pleading to be free in the plaintive “Deliver Us” juxtaposed with whip snapping overseers exhorting the slaves building the pyramids to work ever “Faster.” The obligatory scene of baby Moses being placed in the reeds along the Nile, being rescued and adopted by Queen Tuya (Christina Sajous) sets the tone for Ramses (Jason Gotay) and Moses (Diluckshan Jeyaratnam) to become inseparable brothers.

Then events leading to the flight enforce the bond yet competitive nature between the adoptive pair. Their inherent leadership qualities are enforced in words and deeds making the inevitable separation seem direr. Their strength is depicted early in act one with a chariot race scene created with the bodies of the ensemble. It is a choreographic gem as is the depiction of the famous “Burning Bush” with ensemble body motion.

As the young pair mature they gain insights and accept responsibility. This is initially the growth of leadership within Rames who becomes Pharaoh after the death of his father Pharaoh Seti (Tom Nelis). He understands his role and accepts marriage without love to strong willed Nefertari (Jamila Sabares-Klemm) while accepting the resistance to High Priest Hotep ((Will Mann).

After Moses meets his real brother Aaron (David Crane ) and sister Miriam (Julia Motyka), He does not readily accept the leadership role due to his loyalty to Ramses. He reluctantly accepts his fate as leader of the Hebrews and marries Midianite Tzipporah (Brennyn Lark).  After the plague that inflicts the Egyptians and spares the Hebrews the exodus begins leading to the climatic depiction of the parting of the Red Sea.

Diluckshan Jeyaratnam’s booming baritone voice is perfect for his early scenes as a carefree youth but does not develop nuance or strength to carry the role of Moses the Leader. Jason Gotay’s expressive tenor voice displays the conflict within Rames and it is the women’s voices that earn most of the accolades. The choreography (Sean Cheesman) carries the show. Even with memorable songs, intermittent show stopping scenes and fluid direction by Scott Schwartz the running time of two hours and 20 minutes with an intermission makes the evening seem too long. Recommendation: Should see to enjoy some great music and spectacular choreography.

CREATIVE TEAM: Director, Scott Schwartz;  Choreographer, Sean Cheesman; Orchestration, August Eriksmoen; Music Supervisor/Arrangements, Dominick Amendum; Musical Director, William Liberatore; Scenic Designer, Kevin Depinet;  Costume Designer, Ann Hould-Ward; Lighting Designer, Mike Billings; Sound Designer, Cliff Caruthers; Projections Designer, Shawn Sagady; Wig, Hair, & Makeup Designer, J. Jared Janas; Magic Consultant, Jacques Simard; Casting Director, Leslie Martinson; Stage Manager, Randall K. Lum.

CAST: Aaron, David Crane; Young Aaron, Dylan K. Curtis; Keturah, Katherine Dela Cruz; Yocheved, Ayelet Firstenberg;  Ramses, Jason Gotay; Jethro, Paul-Jordan Jansen; Moses, Diluckshan Jeyaratnam; Tzipporah, Brennyn Lark; Hotep,Will Mann; Miriam, Julia Motyka; Pharaoh Seti, Tom Nellis; Queen Tuya, Christine Sajous; Nefertari, Jamila Sabares-Klemm; Young Miriam, (Leah) Natalie Schroeder; Young Miriam, (Leah), Alexandra Van De Poel; Young Aaron, Oliver Copaken Yellin.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.

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