“Prince of Egypt” is one of my favorite movies of all time. It boasts beautiful color, amazing music, and brilliant artistry. Unfortunately, the beautiful color stops at the screen. The movie’s cast was completely void of color despite telling the stories of African people and it seems that Bay Street Theater’s production sought to follow suit.
Although the initial Prince of Egypt reading included beautiful faces of color including Norm Lewis and Patina Miller, the performance scheduled for August 13th featured no black leads. After complaints from several voices of Broadway, Bay Street made a decision to cancel the show.
So Bay Street decided to be blind to the incredible Black talent on Broadway and since they’re still developing the new musical, maybe I can lend a hand in selecting a more accurate group of storytellers. Although they’re a little busy being successful in their current performances, here’s my color-corrected dream cast of Prince of Egypt.
Chris Lee and I met in high school, you may know him as Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson from Chicago’s Hamilton: An American Musical. I knew him as a doo-woping dread head who truly treated his voice like an instrument and lived permanently in song. The one thing that always blew me away was the control and diversity he gave his voice. I watched him belt in Hairspray and show off his classical chops in Les Mis. He is the perfect talent for for the strength and ever-evolving character that is Prince of Egypt’s Moses.
Rameses must possess an immovable ego that exceeds his love for his brother. So, I offer you Nkrumah Gatling. His hairline is of the gods and he has the passion of a Pharaoh in his prime. Nkrumah Gatling is your guy.
With Tzipporah I asked, “Self, do I want a powerhouse or a prima donna?” Then I stumbled upon Ariana Groover performing “Four Women” at Joe’s Pub and there she was. Groover is committed, gorgeous, and a powerful performer, she would make a beautiful Tzipporah.
Miriam has to be the most beautiful soul you’ve ever seen, she wants right by her people and strength within her family. A narrative many of us relate to. Who best to tell this story than Les Mis’ Brennyn Lark? She holds the perfect presence to bring life to Miriam’s revolutionizing strength. She is a woman of the people, for the people.
Grasan Kingsberry is my favorite choice for Aaron. Reluctant to sacrifice peace for freedom, Aaron’s evolution comes only at the inspiration of Moses’ leadership. Have you seen Grasan’s eyes when he performs? This Catch Me If You Can alum knows what he’s doing. He doesn’t just sing, he pulls you into the moment with him. That’s who I want to see playing Aaron.
Norm Lewis has to remain as Jethro. No contest.
There is not one voice other than Audra McDonald’s that I want to hear sing “River Lullaby.” Not a one.
So there you go, Bay Street, Black people, and Broadway lovers. It took some thinking, not for lack of black talent but for the abundance of it. We belong in the room, even if I have to color correct it myself, I will get us there. Be blessed.