Theater Review: Thou shalt not believe these commandments

Val Kilmer stars in "The Ten Commandments," whose run has been put on hold for reworking.

“Why me?” sings Val Kilmer as Moses in “The Ten Commandments: The Musical,” (good line; would you want it in parentheses? Not to be confused with “The Ten Commandments: a Tablet.”) Why, indeed, did Mr. Kilmer decide to participate in this ponderous, spectacularly dull production, which is playing at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood.

Worst of all in this “musical” are the music and lyrics. The story is told completely in song, without the benefit of an explanatory sentence or two. All patterned on the abab rhyme scheme, the lyrics become monotonous and, if you miss any of the words, the plot loses continuity. As for the music, one could not distinguish one tune from another. The singers, all mini-miked, belt out the songs in Broadway fashion, adopting a lugubrious style in keeping with the tone of the presentation.

It’s obvious that a great deal of money has been spent on the sets and the costumes for what seemed like a cast of thousands. The various sets, including massive walls with Egyptian inscriptions, huge thrones and an imposing burning bush, are schlepped in by Hebrews being lashed by Egyptian soldiers. (Hopefully none of them suffered a hernia.). Movie screens, in the back and the sides of the stage, detract somewhat from the ambiance of ancient Egypt. The screens served their purpose, however, showing the desert where Moses roamed, the bloody doors of the homes where infants have been slaughtered and the river that the baby Moses was thrown into.

Unfortunately, the story does not lend itself to humor and one could ask, “Let there be lightness.”

Kilmer was not only lost in the desert, he was just plain lost. His voice is not distinctive and he has very little to do but try to look like Moses. Without super titles it was difficult to tell who was who and what was what. But we can single out several actors who did their best. Kevin Early, a handsome Ramses, showed some acting skills, although he has to sing a song titled, “The Glory of Me.” Michelle Pereira and Luba Mason looked good in their Egyptian dresses, which would be presentable at a modern fundraiser. Also featured were Alisan Porter, Nicholas Rodriguez, Lauren Kennedy, Adam Lambert, Nita Whitaker and one-named Ipale.

My assumption is that this is an ego trip on the part of the successful garment maven Max Azria, who showed better judgment as the costume designer for the show than as the producer. All through the production, I kept thinking of John MacEnroe’s line, “You can’t be serious.”