Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Jon Driscoll. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Jon Driscoll. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, 27 February 2020

The Prince of Egypt, Dominion Theatre | Review

The Prince of Egypt
Dominion Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 27th February 2020 by Olivia Mitchell

In 1998, The Prince of Egypt became an animated sensation, bagging an Oscar and much critical acclaim. Since then it's been on a long journey to the London stage. Originally beginning in California in 2017, many changes have been made across the world to bring this current, reimagined production to life.

The plot is made up of the Exodus story, following the child of a Hebrew slave, Moses, who is found in the river and adopted by Pharaoh's family. All grown up, Moses discovers his real heritage and flees the palace to discover his true purpose in life. It's in the vast desert that a case of divine visitation via a burning bush, shows Moses his true mission to free the enslaved Hebrews and take them to the promised land. 

Musically Stephen Schwartz's score is beautiful, with sweeping melodies and evocative patterns, but frequently, the lyrics don't match up in terms of power; often just pointing out the action, rather than developing it. However, it's the choral moments which really soar, with Deliver Us providing so much power. Almost operatic at times the ensemble do an outstanding job of coming together to perform tight harmonies that fill the cavernous Dominion Theatre.

It's the 'telling' aspect of this musical which makes it fall somewhat flat. Philip LaZebnik's dialogue is cumbersome, with very little character or narrative development. There are many moments, which although wonderfully performed, do not develop the plot or characters and feel unnecessary, and whilst some moments are over explained by the dialogue or music, others feel undeveloped. Namely the plagues which are projected in rapid succession but are unclear.

It's safe to say subtlety does not feature in this show and the first act especially feels considerably pantomimic, with the one liners from the film not transferring to stage as effectively. There are also pacing issues, which are resolved a little in act two but do make the musical drag.

However, aside from these issues, there's no denying that this is a spectacularly well performed musical. Amongst the main plot, there's a huge focus on the rivalry of Moses and Pharaoh's birth son, Ramses, which is brought to life excellently by Luke Brady and Liam Tamne. Both actors give their everything to the limited dialogue and create characters which we feel for and are both vocal powerhouses. Christine Allado and Alexia Khadime are accomplished in their performances and perform the Oscar winning song When You Believe brilliantly. With Allado giving a particularly strong performance as the headstrong Tzipporah; it's wonderful to see a woman on stage motivated not only by the man in her life.

As Jethro, Gary Wilmot is underused but excellent in the time he's given. Credit must also be given to Debbie Kurup, Mercedesz Csampai, Simbi Akande and Jessica Lee who stand out throughout. Mia Lakha is also brilliant in her various young roles and is certainly an up and coming star of stage.

Visually this show is a treat. Kevin Depinet's hanging set wraps around the auditorium and cleverly makes the vast space feels more enclosed and welcoming. The simplistic design makes use of many projections by Jon Driscoll which are effective at transforming the space feeling grand, lavish and imposing despite not physically being there. The money moments, such as the parting of the red sea and the building of the pyramids are extremely well done.

It's Sean Cheesman's choreography which is the real star of The Prince of Egypt. Sharp and so so energetic it's amazing to watch. The ensemble come together to create various scenes, materials and emotions which tire you out just watching. Even in tableau moments, the precision is clear to see and this has got to be one of the strongest and most energetic ensembles around.

For spectacle and energy, The Prince of Egypt is worth a visit. It's not going to change your life but it'll provide a fun few hours of superfluous theatricality that looks and sounds very pretty.

The Prince of Egypt is currently booking at the Dominion Theatre until 31 October 2020

photo credit: Tristram Kenton

Friday, 5 January 2018

The Wizard of Oz, Capitol Theatre | Review

The Wizard of Oz 
Capitol Theatre, Sydney
Reviewed on Thursday 4th January 2017 by Faiza Rahman

Andrew Lloyd Webber would have been over the rainbow with the Sydney premier of The Wizard of Oz. From the moment the stage curtains opened, the audience were captivated. Personally, just for a moment, I forgot whether I was watching a movie or a show because of the pure essence of the way that the stage was set and the way digital media was used to give the audience a feeling of inclusion in the story and world of Oz.

Samantha Dodemaide does a whimsical job of taking us into the land of fantasy (apart from Dorothy’s red shoe coming off her foot when it was supposed to be stuck!) This slip up was ignored with grace from Samantha as the audience giggled and quickly forgot, whilst she continued to perfectly capture the golden-age naivety. Lucy Durack as Glinda won me over with her witty one-liners and effervescent outfit. Eli Cooper’s Scarecrow act was certainly not spineless – his bendy limbs wrapped us in admiration; alongside John Xintavelonis’ Cowardly Lion’s witty and ‘scary’ roar and Tin Man’s (Alex Rathgeber) heartless love and robotic movements. The Wicked Witch of the West (Jemma Rix) – well, that laugh explains why she was the perfect person to embody her character, for not one moment did I not adore her evilness, as weird as that may sound- she was brilliant! 

The star of the show was the costume and set design by Robert Jones, supported by Jon Driscoll and Daniel Brodie’s engrossing video and projection work. Vorticist projections were used to evoke the Kansas cyclone that took Dorothy into the dreamworld and took us there too. The lighting and effects used on the walls of the theatre enhanced the experience and created an ethereal atmosphere that delved us straight onto the yellow brick road and at times I really felt like I was a part of the show. 

The costumes were visually appeasing – what particularly impressed the audience was when Dorothy’s dress changed colour as she conducted a twirl across the stage from her regular dress to a sparkly green version as she entered Emerald City. The screens used to create the feeling of depth were perfectly controlled and used well to create the feeling of distance to emerald city. My highlight was when Dorothy, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion & Scarecrow were put in the dome by the Wizard – it looked so 3D and realistic, everyone was astounded. 

I was taken back to my childhood through the music. Samantha Dodemaide’s voice projects an innocence yet heart wrenching power, like a force leading her back home to Kansas. Although since 1939, The Wizard of Oz has taken on many variations, this one stays grounded in the characters and echoes that there is no place like home, even with its modern twist.

The Wizard of Oz runs at the Capitol Theatre until 4th February 2018

photo credit: Jeff Busby