The opening scenes of the West End’s latest hit musical, ‘The Prince of Egypt, certainly pack a punch as its cast descends, joyously, upon the Dominion Theatre’s stage to sing ‘Deliver Us’. They’re here to tell us the story of Moses and how he overcame multiple trials and tribulations to lead the Israelite people out of slavery.
If, like me, you were dispatched to Sunday School as a child, you’ll be familiar with the tale of how Moses’ mother, Jochebed, hid her baby in a basket of rushes in the Nile River after the Egyptian Pharaoh ordered all newborn Hebrew boys to be killed. There, he was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter, Bithia, and grew up with the Egyptian royal family.
Needless to say, this family-friendly musical provides a sanitised version of Moses’ frequently bloodthirsty life (thankfully, it omits the 40 years that he and the Israelites spent wandering around the Desert of Paran). Instead, it focuses on his early life with his adoptive parents and brother, Ramses, his banishment by the Pharaoh for 28 days and Moses’ subsequent redemption
There’s a good chemistry between Luke Brady, who plays Moses and Liam Tamne, who plays Ramses; in the early stages of the show we witness the warmth they have for each other as brothers – and the friendly rivalry that exists between them. Their father, a stern and vengeful Seti (Joe Dixon), displays an instinctive preference for the cheekier, more confident Moses – but prizes power above everything: “Egypt is my first-born – and my last-born. It comes even before my children.”
The arrival of the enslaved Tzipporah sets the cat among the pigeons. Feisty, strong and charismatic, it doesn’t take long for her and Moses to fall in love and for me, Christine Allado’s performance is the highlight of the show. She oozes star quality and it’s impossible to take your eyes off her when she’s on stage.
I also liked Tanisha Spring, who plays Rameses’ wife Nefertari. Ambitious to the point of ruthlessness, aware that her marriage to the Pharaoh’s elder son unites the two most powerful families in Egypt, it’s interesting watching Nefertari evolve into a mother and into an all-round more compassionate human being. I confess to finding the female characters more interesting than their male counterparts; would that they had bigger roles – but this is, after all, the story of Moses. Sequel, anyone?
A further stand-out performance is Adam Pearce, as the High Priest, Hotep, who adds a delicious blend of villainy and humour to proceedings – but the entire young, exuberant cast deserve praise, as does the show’s choreography, which is a joy to behold. The costumes, too, are dazzling, offset by a relatively simple set that nicely evokes the spirit of ancient Egypt.
How much you enjoy ‘The Prince’ of Egypt’ will depend upon how much you enjoy musicals in general, your willingness to disregard some of the irritatingly trite dialogue – and how much you’re prepared to splash out on West End ticket prices (I went on a reduced price preview ticket; just as well, considering how much my glass of wine cost me). The sound track is decent, its stand-out inevitably ‘When You Believe’ from DreamWorks’ 1998 film, with ‘Never in a Million Years’ a close second.
Overall, this is a highly enjoyable West End outing, a sentiment echoed by my fellow audience members, who gave it a standing ovation.