The Ten Commandments - Review

The Kodak Theatre is a new and exciting venue for many big shows, like the Annual Academy Awards.  It's located in the heart of Hollywood and Highland's best renovated area and new shopping complex.  The Kodak's recent production of The Ten Commandments has been highly anticipated, as well as received with mixed reviews.

Perhaps The Ten Commandments focused the early hype with publicity and billboard of the show's star, Val Kilmer everywhere.  Attending the performance on September 29, 2004, the seats were nearly all filled for this newest musical, and U.S. premiere.

This presentation of The Ten Commandments was brought by a
world-renowned designer's company, BCBG/MAX Azaria Entertainment. Azaria made this show possible, after his excitement in seeing the French version, Les Dix Commandments in 2001.

Writer, Elie Chouraqui is also the co-producer of The Ten Commandments.   He won two (2) Cesar Awards in 1978 for My First Love, as the writer/director, when his career began.  More awards were to follow, until he wrote, directed and produced Les Dix Commandments in 2000. 

Assuming that the American version needed a star, the stage was set with an unlikely Val Kilmer, as "Moses." Kilmer, a native Angeleno was the lead.  Since his first major role in the film, Willow, directed by Ron Howard, Kilmer followed with other notable films, like Batman Forever. But, within the first minutes of The Ten Commandments, Kilmer encountered what appeared to be technical difficulties. An audio technician went onto the stage to inspect Kilmer's microphone.  That would inevitably create the possibility for uneasiness from the audience or cast, even if only for a brief moment.  But, as much as most our hearts wanted to embrace Kilmer's performance as spiritual, or moving, he failed to captivate.  His choices for the role of "Moses" were left open to criticism.  Kilmer isn't a novice, since his films credits are undeniable strong, and his theatrical background includes being the youngest attendee at the prestigious Julliard School.  Kilmer looked the part, but still managed to miss the total presence this show commands.
      
     

Thou shalt not lie, without the best "Moses" the rest of the production couldn't be sustained in whole.  However, some actors did shine and their abilities impressive enough to almost compensate.  Possibly on other performances there could be a slight difference. 

Kilmer is known for his temperament, so casting him in an inspiring lead, with musical numbers might be a stretch to anyone's imagination.  It is possible that even the new music and lyrics by Patrick Leonard, known for Madonna's hit, Like A Prayer, wouldn't assist Kilmer's interpretation.

The stage didn't meet any unusual expectations. The music and lyrics were beautiful.  It was particularly appreciated as actress Michelle Pereira's (Yokebed) voice delivered emotion, warmth, and passion with each note.

Laura Kennedy sang a very poignant song with Can You Do That For Me? I must admit that, If I Can Let You Go, sung by Yokebed and Bithia (Luba Mason) was incredibly touching. Nita Whitaker (Zipporah) and Alisan Porter (Miriam) also delighted the audience with their moves and songs.  Actors, Ipale (Sefi the Pharaoh), Kevin Earley (Ramses) and Adam Lambert (Joshua) were very consistent and good. A charming little boy with a golden voice sang the solo that captured the overall message.  His name is Graham Phillips.

The fancier costumes for the women were really stunning, too.  Even Azaria had limitations with the time period though. There were also some special effects. Thankfully, musicals rely on voices to carry a successful show. I really could hear these songs more often, as with the best of long-running musicals.  That's a selling point, but the casting should not be based on star power name alone.  Substance is preferred.
 
Act One had fourteen numbers and Act Two was shorter with only six numbers. Sadly, some of the audiences did not return for the Second Act.  When asked about the show at the end, many had opinions.  Chrissy Ortega, of Lynwood, CA, a Catholic herself, said she expected to become more involved and inspired.  But, she added that she was, "glad she came."  Other people absolutely left smiling, and loved it!  This did put a spin (with modern music even) to an already long-time controversial religious topic.  When has God and interpretation ever been simple?

Hollywood is in fact all about risks, dreams and visions, which are not all identical, making things that much sweeter.  The Ten Commandments might be a work in progress. 

For further show information visit their website:  www.the10com.com or call the Kodak Theater Box Office at (323) 308-6363

 

 

 

 

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