Written by Daniella Litvak
Promised Land is a good-natured children’s theater production retelling of Exodus. The child actors are having fun. The adult actors are having a blast hamming it up. It was truly sweet, seeing
Photo Courtesy : Michelle Teeter -Musical Theatre Village Irvine
how right after the curtain call, the actors leaped straight from the stage into the arms of their adoring family and friends.
Criticizing the show feels like I’m kicking a puppy. I could say it’s fine enough for a children’s theater production and leave it at that. However, taking such a dismissive attitude would be an insult to all children’s work that transcends age barrier and to the child actors in the show who deserve better material.
Sound wise the show gets off to a rocky start. The opening number’s vocals are a bit muddled. During the first act there are quite a few times where the music overpowers the singing. The musical numbers are cute and fun, but they’re not really memorable. Also the sound effect for baby Moses is really annoying.
As for the story itself… The Book of Exodus is always a great source of storytelling material. However, the show tries to do the Shrek thing and cram in a bunch of anachronistic jokes. The problem is that most of these jokes lack any sort of bite to really generate the laughs. Especially during the first act, the plot meanders all over the place. Some of the detours are a bit odd –like the scene where teenage Moses is dating two girls at once. These weird detours really make the more dramatic parts of the story feel brushed over.
I think the second act is better than the first. The story is tighter and adds meta jokes, which I have to admit I’m a sucker for. Aaron dressed in prison stripes while playing a pink, Hello Kitty electric guitar during “Leaving Sand City” (a parody medley of classic rock songs) cracked me up.
The actor playing the lamb and then the cow deserves a shout out for fully committing to the roles and providing some nice physical comedy.
Overall, it’s cute and has some nice moments, but I can’t really recommend it.
Feb 20th – March 15
Musical Theatre Village in Irvine