The famous DreamWorks animation The Prince of Egypt has finally been adapted into an extraordinary stage musical that premieres in London’s West End this month.
The Prince of Egypt is the story of two brothers, Moses and Ramses. Raised together in a kingdom of privilege they find themselves divided by a secret past. One of them must rule as Pharaoh and the other must rise up and free his true people. It’s a story of brotherhood, breaking tradition and belief.
“Stephen Schwartz, who has written the music and lyrics for the musical, describes it as ‘Wicked for boys,” said Liam Tamne who plays the role of Ramses. “It is about seeing two sides of the coin and the struggle for these two brothers.”
Opening in the West End for a limited run, The Prince of Egypt is an epic story with an entrancing score performed by some of the West End’s top talent.
“It is amazing to be amongst something that has been known for such a long time,” said Liam. “Musically, it is incredible and to be working with Stephen Schwartz again is amazing. It is a great story that is so fitting to everything that is happening in the world at the moment. It’s such a powerful piece.”
Liam went to a Catholic school and the Prince of Egypt was a film he adored growing up. “We learnt about it at school and it was done of the first animated films I watched,” Liam said. “It translates so beautifully on stage.
“They’ve created this really immersive piece of theatre which is really cool, it is very technical in terms of its design and it is a true spectacle. There is a lot of stuff people will know from the film but also a few surprises along the way.”
Having performed in major musicals such as Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera, Wicked and the Rocky Horror Show, Liam said that this production is completely different to anything he has ever done before. “It requires a different athleticism,” said Liam. “The story of the character is a real challenge but so incredible to be doing.
“Everyone obviously knows the story of Moses but no one truly knows the story of Rameses. He was one of the greatest rulers of the ancient Egyptian history. He gave women so much power and abolished slavery. He was so ahead of his time, which is why he reined for 62 years and married twice. It is amazing how they managed to put so much of the ancient Egyptian history into something that is known.”
Telling a Hebrew story, there are so many cultures covered in this show and it is excellently casted as this story is told by a beautifully diverse group of actors on stage. “You have the Hebrew culture, the Midianites and the Egyptian culture too,” Liam explained.
“There are different styles of cultures and that is very rare to have in a musical. I think that’s one of the things that me as an ethnic minority are really proud of. The fact that the diversity has been embraced in this show and it has been encouraged. That has been quite powerful for a company but also I think it will be for this piece.”
These cultures are woven into Stephen Schwartz’ compelling score. “The music has a lot to do with the pulse of the piece, the music is so crucial to the story whether that’s people singing or the intricate underscores through the scenes,” said Liam.
With lots of Broadway musicals coming over to the West End, it is significant that this musical is premiering in the West End. “One of the reasons why Stephen wanted to open the show over here is because of the actors,” Liam said. “We do tend to have a different machine of how we approach a piece, particularly musicals.
“We always go for the text before we go to the sound, obviously the sound is crucially important and everyone in the company are phenomenal singers, but we approach text a lot differently. I think this is why we have a lot of plays that end up going to Broadway, because we approach the text before we approach a lot of other things.”
Aside from the triumphant score, stellar cast and spectacular design, why is The Prince of Egypt going to have such a big impact on the West End? “Because of the story,” Liam told me.
“I think with everything that is going on in the world, escapism is something that a lot of people could do with. What is quite powerful is that there is a line I sing in the show which is that there is a way of honouring the past without being trapped by it, I think it is so relevant with everything that is going on right now.
“In terms of relationships, cultural differences and diversity, it is very fitting. I think as a society, when things go wrong, we think tradition always works instead of moving along with the times, but this story spreads the message of really going with what is in your gut – I think that is what is powerful about this show.”
The Prince of Egypt is on at the Dominion Theatre in the West End until the 12th of September, tickets and information can be found on their website.