The Prince of Egypt. Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Book by Philip LaZebnik. Directed by Scott Schwartz. TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA.
This World Premiere has alot going for it: a dramatic story of two diametrically opposed brothers on very separate paths, a score by Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin), a book by Philip LaZenik (Mulan, Pocahantas) and direction by Broadway’s award-winning Scott Schwartz. The Prince of Egypt, based on the 1998 DreamWorks animated feature for which Schwartz wrote the songs, looks and sounds fantastic thanks to a fantastic technical team and talented multi-ethnic cast. Even with the inclusion of Oscar-winning Best Song “When You Believe”, the weak link here is the component that must be the strongest, the score, which is unmemorable.
The cast is led by acclaimed Danish actor/singer Diluckshan Jeyaratnam as Moses and Broadway’s Jason Gotay as his pharaoh brother Ramses. Brennyn Lark plays Tzipporah , Moses’ wife, and Tom Nelis is wonderful as Pharaoh Seti. The opening number “Deliver Us” is a wow moment, but the production settles into mediocrity for long spans. The scenic design by Kevin Depinet, lighting by Mike Billings, projections by Shawn Sagady, choreography by Sean Cheesman, costumes by Ann Hould-Ward and orchestration by William Liberatoreare all top-notch.
The story is timeless and this production enhances the relationship between the brothers; one born to rule over subjects and slaves, the other compelled to free his people and lead reluctantly. A chariot race between the two competing brothers is spectacularly staged as is the parting of the Red Sea and a representation of the burning bush.
The production moves next to the Fredericia Teater in Denmark where it will host the Co-World premiere in April 2018. It may look and sound entirely different by then or, if the production team is happy as it, the show is set in the stones that make up the unique set designs.
Performances run through November 5, 2017 www.theatreworks.org 650.463.1960