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The Ten Commandments: The Musical
DVD cover of The Ten Commandments: The Musical starring Adam Lambert and Val Kilmer
MusicPatrick Leonard
LyricsMaribeth Derry

The Ten Commandments: The Musical is a musical with music by Patrick Leonard and lyrics by Maribeth Derry. The book is adapted from the French musical Les Dix Commandements created by Élie Chouraqui from an idea by Albert Cohen, which in turn was based on the Book of Exodus and the 1956 epic film The Ten Commandments.

The musical debuted at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on September 21, 2004. It was directed by Robert Iscove, with choreography by Travis Payne and costumes by Max Azria. The original cast included Val Kilmer, Kevin Earley, Lauren Kennedy, Adam Lambert, Luba Mason, Alisan Porter, Nita Whitaker, Michelle Pereira, Nicholas Rodriguez and Aharon Ipalé. A DVD was shot with the original cast.


Act 1

3,300 years ago, under the reign of Egyptian Pharaoh Seti I, the Hebrews were an enslaved race, forced to work mercilessly to meet the demands of Seti's growing empire. Since the increasing population of the Hebrews threatened the Egyptians, the pharaoh handed down an edict sentencing all newborn Hebrew sons to death. The baby Moses, born of Jochebed and Amram, was set adrift on the Nile in a basket, so that his life might be saved. He was found by the daughter of Seti, the childless Princess Bithia, who believed Moses was sent to her by the gods.

Moses was adopted by Seti and raised in the pharaoh's court as a brother to the young prince, Ramses. When the brothers grew to young men, Seti announced that Ramses would become the next pharaoh. Moses would be his second in command, the architect of his cities, and his lifetime chief counselor. Both brothers fervently wished to marry the young princess, Nefertari. Ramses' position as pharaoh forced Nefertari to take him and give up her secret hope of being with Moses, the only man she ever loved.

As time passed, Moses began to question the enslavement of the Hebrews. After witnessing an Egyptian guard abusing a Hebrew, Moses became enraged at the injustices the slaves were suffering, and impulsively killed the guard. During his murder trial, Moses' real sister Miriam revealed to Moses that he was actually the son of Jochebed, a Hebrew slave. Moses was banished to the desert and fled to Midian, where he met and married Zipporah, the daughter of the Midianite priest.

One day in the wilderness, Moses saw a bush that was burning but was not consumed by the flames. From it came the voice of God, instructing him to return to Egypt and demand that Ramses free the Hebrew slaves. Moses, armed only with his shepherd's staff but inspired by the power of God, undertook the mission to lead the Hebrews to "a promised land, a land overflowing with milk and honey". Moses returned to Egypt to confront the pharaoh.

Back in Egypt, the brutality of Ramses' treatment of the slaves only strengthened Moses' resolve. Ramses was overjoyed at the return of his brother until Moses told him that he must let the Hebrews go, explaining to him that no man has the right to enslave another man. Enraged by Moses' plea, Ramses threatened to kill the slaves. In response, Moses unleashed ten plagues on the Kingdom of the Pharaoh; the last one resulted in the death of Ramses’ own son. Devastated, Ramses finally freed the slaves.

Act 2

The Hebrews hastily began their trek into the desert, where they wandered, fed by manna and guided by pillars of smoke and fire. Driven by vengeance and Nefertari's goading, Ramses sent his armies to overtake the escaped slaves. The Hebrews, trapped on high cliffs overlooking the Red Sea, began to panic, but Moses urged them to have faith. As he raised his staff, the sea parted, opening a pathway for their escape. The Egyptian soldiers tried to follow, but the sea closed, drowning them.

Wandering in the desert, the Hebrews became discontented and afraid. Moses left the group at the base of Mt. Sinai while he ascended to the peak to seek God's help. There he received The Ten Commandments, a basic law of human conduct. He brought the commandments back to his people, only to find that they had descended into idolatry and sin. Enraged and disappointed, he broke the law tablets and threatened that God would punish the Hebrews. The people repented, accepted the new law, and thus prepared to enter The Promised Land.

Principal roles


Musical numbers

Original cast

Role Actor
Seti Aharon Ipalé
Jochebed Michelle Pereira
Miriam Alisan Porter
Bithia Luba Mason
Aaron Nicholas Rodriguez
Moses Val Kilmer
Ramses Kevin Earley
Nefertari Lauren Kennedy
Joshua Adam Lambert
Zipporah Nita Whitaker

Critical response

The musical received mixed reviews from theatre critics,[1] but the actors earned nearly unanimous praise for their performances.

Adam Lambert's fame on American Idol had led DVD releases to feature his name on covers.

News related to the musical


  1. ^ Isherwood, Charles. Ten Commandments review, The New York Times September 30, 2004