By Kizzi Asala and Africanews
Back on stage from Thursday the Blockbuster musical ‘The Prince of Egypt’ at the Dominion Theatre in the West End, London, England, United Kingdom (UK).
Theatergoers can once again enjoy the visually eye-popping show based on the 1998 DreamWorks award-winning namesake animated film that tells the epic religious story of Moses.
A tale of overcoming adversity that speaks to the world’s current climate.
Music and lyrics are by Stephen Schwartz (‘Wicked,’ ‘Godspell’) with a book by screenwriter and playwright Philip LaZebnik (‘Mulan,’ ‘Pocahontas’).
The writing pair has spent seven years developing the musical.
LaZebnik wrote the screenplay while Schwartz wrote both the music and lyrics for the 1998 movie version of ‘The Prince of Egypt’ — including the Oscar-winning song ‘When You Believe,’ originally recorded and performed by African American pop icons the late great Whitney Houston and culture-influencer Mariah Carey.https://www.youtube.com/embed/LKaXY4IdZ40
Stage performer Tanisha Spring who portrays Nefertari and Liam Tamne who plays Ramses, are thrilled to be back on stage!
Spring: “Theater has this just amazing and powerful emotional effect when it’s live, when a story is told live in front of you. The story aside, being quite emotional generally, ‘The Prince of Egypt,’ I think just the excitement of just being there will probably overwhelm, I can imagine.”
Tamne: “Yeah, and I think as well, like, with regards to the story, I think it’s even more fitting with what we’ve all just gone through, not just as a country, but globally. And I think it’s that message of belief and hope and faith, but also, like, we’ve gone through a pandemic, we – it sounds kind of weird saying this, but we go through the plagues in our show, which is kind of a weird thing.
“But then you talk about the Black Lives Matter movement. So there’s been oppression and the rise of people and voices being heard for women. I’m very passionate about that myself, and I really appreciate the fact that we explore that with the female lead characters, that they are powerful and opinionated women — but in a beautiful way. So I think the show resonates even more now in the weird sort of 15, 16 months that we’ve just had.”
Neil Laidlaw and his fellow producers — DreamWorks Theatricals and Michael McCabe, have spent a fraught few months trying to relaunch the show after fifteen months of lockdown due to the global health crisis, and no support from the UK government.
Initially launched in February 2020 only to close just a few weeks later due to a government-mandated lockdown at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this time around the auditorium will be at only 50% capacity with social distancing measures factored into the 154 cast show.
“We test every single day. So that’s everybody that enters the building. So we’re totally 100% safe and secure. There’s obviously a lot of people are vaccinated and people are still getting vaccinated because we’ve got some young people that are just only just getting vaccinated now. So they are really taking every single protocol that they can,” said Tamne.
“We have such a big auditorium that we can just about make that work financially,” Laidlaw told The Associated Press “and we took the decision that we thought it was worth bringing the show back as soon as we can because we have over one hundred and fifty people backstage and they’re, it is their job, so it’s great to allow them back and, you know, to be back at work again.”
Olivier Award-winner Clive Rowe, who has joined the company as Jethro is not phased by the reduced seat numbers
“I’m very much of the mind – I suppose I would call myself old school. For me, it doesn’t matter if there’s one person or a thousand people in the auditorium because I still have to give the same performance, because that person has paid to come and see it. So whether it’s a thousand or five hundred or two thousand, it doesn’t really matter to me with my performance.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/AJi0g4504_w
The star performer said the return of culture-starved audiences to the Dominion Theatre in London will be an emotional moment.
“After such an absence from your life, when you get into something that you’ve loved, when you get back to something that you’ve loved, it is quite an emotional journey… It’s an emotional show anyway but I think that, carried with the first time back will be quite an experience for everybody.
“I think as a society, we’ve been shown over the past year that unless we kind of bond together, unless we understand ourselves as individuals within that time and unless we come together, we are weaker for it,” added Rowe. “And this show is the premise, you know, about one man’s journey to bring people together. And I think that’s the similarity in the situation that we’re going through at the moment.”
As coronavirus cases once again begin to rise in the United Kingdom, perhaps the prince of Egypt is a much needed musical pick me up for the British public.