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BWW Album Review: THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (Original Cast Recording) Lacks Emotion

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BWW Album Review: THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (Original Cast Recording) Lacks Emotion

In 1998 Stephen Schwartz mesmerized audiences with his delightfully cinematic songs for Dreamworks' animated film The Prince of Egypt. Just in time for the 2020 Passover season, Ghostlight Records released The Prince of Egypt (Original Cast Recording). Featuring the 2020 London Cast, this lushly recorded but surprisingly forgettable album includes five songs featured in the original film and a slew of new compositions.

For the animated film, Hans Zimmer fleshed out the musical landscape between Schwartz's songs. For the stage version, Schwartz has the herculean task of taking memorable moments from the film and setting new music and lyrics for them. Rising to the challenge, Schwartz crafts many new songs that fit within the pre-established aural landscape. Unfortunately, the new compositions lack rich emotionality, so they are not instantly memorable like songs from the film. Instead, they simply serve the narrative, and often exist as moments of dialogue that reveal motivations for decisions.

Singing Moses, Luke Brady's instrument is warm and inviting. Vocally, he is every bit the hero that listeners want even if he never actually touches the heart of listeners in any palpable way. Opposite Brady, Liam Tamne as Ramses - son of Seti and Moses' brother - spends the first act being charming, earnest, and sincere. Tamne's bright and robust vocals appropriately woo the audience; yet, his shift to being a more dubious and scheming character in the second act lacks conviction and is not wholly believable.

Tzipporah, as sung by Christine Allado, serves as the love interest and eventual wife for Moses. Her honied vocals are sweet and beguiling. Alexia Khadime as Miriam (Moses' older sister) joins Allado on "When You Believe." Together, the duo beautifully sings the most popular song from the film but fails to make it memorable in this setting as it lacks any personal stamp they could have applied. Joe Dixon's Seti, Moses' adoptive father, aptly colors his instrument with an authoritative and commanding tone. Gary Wilmot's Jethro is sung with tangible spirit on "Through Heaven's Eyes," but doesn't elevate this well-known track in any way. Conversely, Tanisha Spring brings wondrous life to Queen Nefertari, wife of Ramses, and makes her ballad "Heartless" a true gem on the album by infusing it with heartrending grief.

Additionally, the choral work in all of the tracks featuring the full ensemble is often enchanting. The layering of the voices for chord progressions and even unison moments create a rousing wall of sound that is rich and masterfully effective. When The Prince of Egypt (Original Cast Recording) truly shines is in these moments, as the chorus capably brings out the emotionality and even spirituality of this score. This is especially true for the mostly unison choral work that represents the voice of God in "Act I Finale" and each of the vibrantly evocative moments in "Act II Finale."

In late February, the London critics panned The Prince of Egypt's West End production. Many complained that the musical favored a Las Vegas like sense of spectacle over conveying the emotion of the Exodus story. Ghostlight Records' The Prince of Egypt (Original Cast Recording) does nothing to convince listeners otherwise; yet, it did leave me wanting to see the musical produced on the stage.

Ghostlight Records' The Prince of Egypt (Original Cast Recording) is available on their webstore, Amazon, Apple Music, and elsewhere music is sold.

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