Tuacahn’s ‘The Prince of Egypt’ sizzles with emotion
By Rachelle Hughes
Iron County Today
Tuacahn’s 2018 production of The Prince of Egypt proves Tuacahn Center for the Arts has started to grow above and beyond just the flash, the boom the “ta-da” in their story telling.
All of those wonderful special effects and big production elements this “Broadway in the Canyon” experience has become known for are still there, and in a big way, but The Prince of Egypt is also so much more. While, yes, the musical is a new premiere based on the 1998 DreamWorks film with music and lyrics and music by Steven Schwartz, this musical is visually spectacular, musically beautiful and an emotional feast. Fortunately, the cast measures up to the challenge and were all fantastic actors, singers and dancers.
Jacob Dickey as Moses was a fantastic casting choice. Watching his transformation from a careless youth to a leader of the Israelites felt truly genuine. His voice was powerful and blended well with his costars Ramses (Roderick Lawrence) and Tzipporah (Alexis Sims). While the musical score does not necessarily have the catchy tunes of other musicals, overall it has a beautiful and emotional quality to its storytelling. Dickey, Lawrence, Sims, and all of the actors in this musical did a lovely job of singing this story together.
Songs like “For the Rest of My Life” left the audience feeling bereft with Moses as he faced the effects of calling down the plague upon the firstborn of Egypt only to follow it up with absolute joy as the Israelites sang “When You Believe.”
Accompanied by a powerful live orchestra, the music along with some moving and symbolic contemporary dance numbers moved this story from one emotion to the next. I have become accustomed to a very athletic type of dance and song show from Tuacahn and this was something quite different. While there were times, like the burning bush scene or a few other moments, when the choreography seemed to rub me the wrong way; there were other moments when it was absolutely unexpectedly beautiful or joyful. I kept waiting for Tuacahn to do their typical flooding of the stage from the moment the Nile came into play. It is kind of their thing. I was pleasantly surprised to see them use dancers and other special effects to portray the Nile throughout the play. The water comes in the end, but it was good to see them stretch outside the expected special effects.
The biblical story of Moses and Ramses and their separate journeys to lead their people is an epic undertaking on any stage, but Tuacahn’s amphitheatre and desert cliffs seem an ideal setting for the roughly different 18 locations that are part of the show whose story takes place in another desert. Tuacahn set designer Brad Shelton truly outdid himself with the scenery that continued to portray the pageantry of Pharoah’s Egypt and the humility and color of the Midianites desert scene after scene. No two scenes seemed exactly the same and there was always some new detail to marvel at during the show.
Highlighting the scenery and the actors was some truly marvelous lighting work by Lighting Designer Cory Pattak. At moments, I was truly left feeling how on earth is that being done with such subtlety and precision. Add a laser show for the plague scene by Lasersmith and the lighting was just one more layer of what made this show one of Tuacahn’s best musicals yet.
There is an intensity to this musical that never lets go of the audience. It would be dissatisfying if it did. With larger than life characters like Pharaoh Seti (Dathan B. Williams) and his wife Tuya (Nicole Powell) along with Moses’ “brother” Ramses and Moses’s Midianite wife Tziporrah and irrepressible sister Miriam (Gabriela Carrillo) strong capable actors that can own the stage are needed. Each of these roles seemed well cast and The Prince of Egypt was a musical sizzling with emotion and intensity to the very end.
The Prince of Egypt plays through Oct. 20 at the Tuacahn Center for the Art’s Outdoor Amphitheatre. For more information on tickets visit tuacahn.org