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The Northern Star

The Northern Star

Another success for NVD's annual art show
Michelle Yu, Co-News Editor • June 12, 2024

NVD holds an annual art show to display students’ artwork from different art classes the school provides, including studio art and digital...

NVD student's summer songs
Lola Brown, Co Editor-in-chief • June 12, 2024

As the weather gets warmer and seasonal depression is in the rearview mirror, certain songs perfectly match the mood. These “summer songs”...

Graduation caps being thrown in the air.
Photo courtesy of
A senior looks back
Lucy Brisman, Managing Editor/Opinion Editor • May 31, 2024

13 years ago, County Road Elementary School gave me an ID that defined me for my entire academic career. The first four numbers were 2024....

“The Prince of Egypt”: screen or stage?

An animated frame from “The Prince of Egypt” (1998)
(photo courtesy of Polygon)
An animated frame from “The Prince of Egypt” (1998) (photo courtesy of Polygon)

“The Prince of Egypt” (1998) is a biblical film animated by Dreamworks, which focuses on the story of Passover from the book of Exodus. Throughout the last two decades, it has aged admirably and has become one of the world’s most beloved animated films. In 2023, it was turned into a musical of the same name and was performed on the West End stage. In turn, the question is posed: which version of The Prince of Egypt holds truer–the original Dreamworks movie or the West End show?

The animated film is revered for–including but not all–its all-star cast, featuring talents like Val Kilmer, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Sandra Bullock; its score, sung mainly by Ofra Haza, including the Academy Award winning song “When You Believe” sung by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston; and its historical accuracy in terms of the architecture, clothing and events in the book of Exodus.

An animated frame from “The Prince of Egypt” (1998)
(photo courtesy of Polygon)

Dreamworks set the bar high for any future adaptations, so the creation of the 2023 musical was bold, unexpected, and in many audiences and critics’ views, unwise. The West End’s musical adaptation of “The Prince of Egypt” is riddled with blatant inaccuracies towards the history and film, poorly decided musical and character changes, cheesy acting, and the musical even has an insulting alternate plot and ending to the story of Passover. Its lack of a set caused it to rely on the ensemble to, in some points, “become” the set, with them trying to imitate multiple set pieces and props, like chariots, pillars, a sea, and a burning bush. 

The musical did have good moments agreed upon by viewers, however, like heartwarming and comedic scenes, its musical consistency with Middle-Eastern culture, and its frequent use of Hebrew that wasn’t as present in the original film. 

Despite the fact that both the animated movie and music had relatively sizable budgets, the musical was a disappointment to the original film as well as its expectant audiences. The voices of the musical were impressive as expected, and yet, the singers in the film, from Ofra Haza to Mirah Carey and Whitney Houston, impressed more audiences and left a greater impact on them. 

Luke Brady as Moses in “The Prince of Egypt” musical
(photo courtesy of

The musical’s original songs, while keeping true to Middle-Eastern cultural music styles, were underwhelming and dragged. The iconic songs from the film–like “Deliver Us”, “All I Ever Wanted”, and “The Plagues”–were altered musically and lyrically, and for the worse. The musical seems to abandon any sort of biblical accuracy with its made-up plotlines, new ending, and out-of-place costumes, with the exception of the addition of the character Nefertari, a biblical figure which the film lacked. 

The changes made from the film, and the book of Exodus itself, did not impress viewers and were seen as offensive to many, and whether this was from factors like an unknown time crunch is unclear. Audiences and critics alike agree that Dreamworks’ original movie adaptation of “The Prince of Egypt” is far superior to the West End musical. By setting up inevitable in-depth comparisons to the film by viewers, the musical doomed itself to be mediocre at best. Perhaps if the movie hadn’t come first, the musical wouldn’t have been as insulting and low-quality to viewers. The musical, advertising and presenting itself as an adaptation of the 1998 film, overall does “The Prince of Egypt” no justice, and the animation film continues to be accepted as one of the greatest biblical films of the century with few notable competitors.

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About the Contributor
Lia Levy
Lia Levy, Staff Writer
Hi! I’m Lia, and I’m a sophomore at NVD this year. I’m a huge music and film buff and have a knack for showing it… in the best way! I’m so excited to see where I’ll go with my first year as a staff member at the Northern Star.
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