Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Prince of Egypt

You know what? After their earth-shatteringly amazing production of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame the musical (two weeks to go and I'll finally see it again!), I didn't think the Danish Fredericia Teater could raise their own bar any higher.

Little did I know.

In April 2018, they're putting on the world premiere of Dreamworks' The Prince of Egypt the musical.

Diluckshan Jeyaratnam, who's going to play Moses, performing the song When You Believe (in the movie, Moses does not sing this one – but whatever, it's beautiful in any case)

The Prince of Egypt is a 1998 animated movie with music by Stephen Schwartz. It tells the story of Moses, from his childhood as the pharaoh's adopted son all the way to him receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. Sounds like heavy stuff, and it is – and at the same time, it's a beautiful movie with a gorgeous musical score.

Perfect stage musical material, that is.

Technically, the Danish production won't be the first time The Prince of Egypt is performed onstage. In the US, there have been readings already (including one that was cancelled, allegedly because the controversy that surrounded its casting – namely that they chose mostly white actors to read a story set in Africa), and in October 2017, previews of the musical will be staged in California. But the official world premiere is going to take place in Denmark.

The full cast and creative team have yet to be announced, but we know the musical is going to be directed by Scott Schwartz (who also consulted Fredericia Teater's production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame – and yes, he's the son of composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz). The leading role of Moses is going to be played by Diluckshan Jeyaratnam, who's currenly playing Clopin in The Hunchback. Interestingly, there are going to be both English and Danish performances of the new musical.

All in all, I am hyped about this.

I was never a big Disney or Dreamworks kid myself. I liked The Sleeping Beauty and The Goofy Movie, and that's about it – and I don't think the latter counts as any huge Disney classic anyway. But after a childhood relatively free of Disney and the likes (no Little Mermaid, no Lion King, no Beauty and the Beast), around the age of 18, I fell in love with two traditionally animated movies. One was Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the other Dreamworks' The Prince of Egypt.

What are the odds musical adaptations of both movies have their European premieres in Denmark less than two years apart from each other, and that I'll get to see both!

Having seen how video screens with a 3D animated cathedral mesh seamlessly with traditional, physical set pieces in Fredericia Teater's Hunchback, having heard flawlessly mixed music surround me, I have especially high hopes for the technical aspect of The Prince of Egypt. The burning bush? The plagues? The crossing of the Red Sea? This will be good.

Not to mention the music and the emotional impact. The Prince of Egypt is a gorgeous movie, and I'm sure it's going to make an equally beautiful musical.

The story of Moses is millenia old. I imagine that thousands of years ago, people shared it with each other by campfire under a vast starry sky, a storyteller painting impressive pictures using words only.

In our modern times, we cannot really go back to that earlier way of telling ageless tales. But an impressive musical spectacle with hundreds of people in the audience feeling for the characters and sharing the experience... It's not the same, but somehow, I have a feeling it has the potential to touch the audience in a rather similar manner.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, this sounds so cool! There's a certain excitement and comfort that comes from knowing in your heart that a production is going to be good, just because of the people and theater involved. And April 2018 really isn't that long to wait! I hope it's awesome. I really need to watch the movie again. I don't think I've seen it since it first came out... twenty years ago.