268-269 Tottenham Court Road, Fitzrovia, London W1T 7AQ 0345 200 7982
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Two youngsters, one becomes a Pharaoh, the other a freedom fighter... does he get a dreamcoat? Nobody knows...
A new musical based on the film.
(seen at the afternoon preview performance on 22nd February 2020)
For those who don’t know, the Dominion Theatre has a long history with religion. A church uses the theatre for worship each Sunday, and the film version of “The Sound of Music” ran here for three years. It also played home to “Bernadette” – the infamous 1990 musical flop to end them all.
Thus the story of Moses is familiar territory. With a Kevin Depinet set referencing another infamous Dominion occupant “Time - The Musical,” another link is added to the chain. It’s all here so...
The Sean Cheesman choreography is Olivier Award winning. You won’t believe the chariot race, plus several other clever moments the monkey won’t reveal for fear of spoilers. Ann Hould-Ward’s costumes assist too, but most of all it’s down to the ensemble executing some remarkable dance moves to stunning effect. All helps to take your mind off the inexplicable amount of polystyrene being moved around the stage the rest of the time. Yes, this really could be called “Moses and the Amazing Polystyrene Brick Count.”
Stephen Schwartz’s score is barely serviceable, “When You Believe” the only major tune (and you wait until the end to hear it). The lyric sometimes moves the action on, sometimes stalls it, but when it works there are some charming intimate moments.
Philip Lazebnik provides a clear story, but alas the actual dialogue more often than not clunks along to the point of requiring serious editing. Worst (though most amusingly) the monkey found itself explaining the phrase “double entendre” to a Norwegian couple seated next to it. Once explained, their laughter joined its own at an unintentionally hilarious scene involving a convoluted love of sheep.
Liam Tamne (Rameses), Luke Brady (Moses), Alexia Khadime 9Miriam), Christine Alaldo (Tzipporah), Debbie Kurup (Queen Tuya), Joe Dixon (Seti) and Gary Wilmot (Jethro) all deserve identical reviews. They cope with whatever the creative team throw at them, squeezing every ounce of meaning from both good and bad lines and remaining colourful and defined to the audience throughout. It is to the credit of the entire cast that when an escape route is offered, they return to the stage to finish the show anyway.
It’s far less fun than “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” There are a few neat laughs, but they are few - in the lengthy first half in particular. A couple of well-considered big moments added to cast and choreography raise the show to the third star, but really this isn’t one to break the bank on nor use as a school holiday treat unless particularly keen on the music or movie already. Your ticket money is on the stage and the cast burn it wisely – it’s just the refusal of the material itself to sparkle that‘s the problem.
The Prince of Egypt is based on the 1998 film of the same name, in turn based upon the Biblical story. If you haven't seen the former (I haven't), you will most likely know the latter, so I'll skip the scene setting and get straight to the show.
The show is... patchy, if I'm honest. It takes what seems an eternity to really get going (well past the halfway point of the first half). And there are times you can't recreate an animation. A chariot scene is great in that setting, but no matter how well the actors perform, a chariot scene really doesn't work very well if you are not moving! And if you're creating the illusion of blocks being heavy, you really can't perform dance numbers with them shortly after!
Things really pick up once Moses leaves Egypt; kudos to Gary Wilmot as Jethro, all warmth and compassion as he leads Moses onto a new path). But the pace drops when he goes back to the Palace (I accept the Palace scenes are mostly setups for what is to come, but they do feel stilted).
But there is good in this show. Once Rameses pledge to release the Hebrews is reneged and the Ten Plagues are brought upon Egypt, the following scenes are dramatic and powerful.
I must single out the Passover scene. This is so simply done, yet carries such power and is deeply moving - you could have heard a pin drop in the audience.
The songs are by and large strong - highlights being 'Through Heavens Eyes,' 'For The Rest Of My Life' and 'When You Believe.'
The scenery is amazing: the projections onto the walls and the cleverly designed curtains that allow light to pass through them and create an illusion of sunlight falling are inspired. The Red Sea scenes are stunning.
But the scenery wouldn't work without the incredible ensemble. Ensembles should always be thanked, but this one is essential. They form a major part of the scenery, creating everything from chariots to statues to rivers of blood! Brava to them.
And Luke Brady does a fine acting job of portraying a man whose live turns from indolence to vengeful savior to almost broken by the weight of his task and the consequences.
With a tighter opening, this could have been a much better show. If it had matched up to the final three quarters, then this would have been a more positive review.
The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.
Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm
Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Runs 2 hours 40 minutes approximately.
Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.
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Monday to Thursday
Friday and Saturday
RUSH TICKETS: App Todaytix are offering £25 "Rush tickets," located at venue discretion, for all performances. Released for the performance on that day, first-come, first-served. Download the App from Todaytix, unlock the "Rush Ticketing" feature by sharing on Facebook or Twitter, and that will allow you to buy tickets.
DAY SEATS: In person at the theatre box office: £29.50 or £45 depending on seat location, subject to availability on the day of performance.