Stage Review

The Ten Commandments (2004)

EW's GRADE
D

Details Opening Date: Sep 21, 2004; Lead Performance: Val Kilmer

About 30 or 40 showbiz commandments get shattered by The Ten Commandments at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, but let's start with one: Thou shalt not cast a celeb non-singer as the lead in a sung-through musical. There may be biblical verisimilitude in having a pitch-challenged Val Kilmer as Moses — the good book describes him as an awkward orator — but you've got a crucial mismatch when the deeper-lunged supporting players belt out applause-baiting, angst-laden ballads as if auditioning for Israeli Idol. Unlike DreamWorks' 'toon version, where Kilmer voiced God and Moses, the Almighty doesn't get any lines, or many allusions — leaving scant indication why that bush is burning or where those commandments came from, amid a post-9/11 emphasis on humanism and tolerance. One waits in vain for Kilmer to break into his old Top Secret! song: ''How Silly Can You Get?''

Originally posted Oct 29, 2004 Published in issue #790 Oct 29, 2004 Order article reprints