After hearing and reading opposite reviews all week long regarding this musical I was anxious to go experience a Jordanian musical in an out-of-the-ordinary- theater in Applied University (yet very neat and cozy).
The set-up, lighting, and costume design exceeded my expectations as props were promptly shifted without the notice of the audience eye, the sound effects were interestingly added to some scenes and lighting was rarely out of place. The music, though, was a disappointment; I expected better music arrangements and compositions from our Jordanian musicians. In addition to the unattended sound check when some actors were speaking and the audience couldn’t tell what was going on.
The play started off by dancers who filled the stage with not so uncommon choreography, but with an interesting flavor of tempo and choice of clothes. However, as the play went on it seemed to be a long dancing performance with some acting and storyline.
The story of Petra Rocks is profound in basis but appeared to be weak on stage, needing more transitional scenes and enrichment of the plot. The ending in specific was rather abrupt, not knowing for sure whether the ending was a happy ending or a sad one as one of my friends commented.
Dima Bawwab was, as always, professional in performance, articulate and expressive in all songs. With her soft yet powerful voice that was sensational and consistent she portrayed experience and character. What was interesting for me to see was the acting and classical Arabic speaking by Dima. Again, she surprised the audience with her convincing role of Princess Hana’ah, like a butterfly coloring the stage with her feminine look and expressive phrases.
Nonetheless, Roz Al Werr was, as expected, remarkable in singing but not as good in acting. The role of the queen might have been too restricting for such an actress and singer.
Amer Al Khuffash who played Saleh, the water engineer of big dreams and a brave heart did a great job winning the heart of the princess and most of the audience. Other male artists were, unfortunately, not up to the standard of the female artists in terms of singing and overall performance.
Adeeb Derhalli captured the audience’s attention in his Prince Kong Ai Dan role, luring the Princess with his fortunes and rare assets in his funny Chinese outfit and dialect. He is obviously more experienced than other actors in the play, moving lightly across the stage, with a clear voice and confident existence under the spotlight. The ‘suitors’ scene, as the audience probably agrees, was the most entertaining and the most profound in terms of script writing and acting with Adeeb enriching it.
Lara Sawalha did a wonderful job as well bringing some groove and boldness to the dances and the acting. She proved her enjoyment and passion of theater with her role, Jamilah the poetess, making the best out of a minor character in the story.
As a person in the audience I can’t but appreciate the hard work spent on the making of this musical from directing to advertising, performance and overall look & feel. There are, on the other hand, many areas for improvement in storyline, choice of character names, music, etc. But I’m glad we have such opportunities for our artists and I’m definite that this is only the beginning of good Jordanian theater for the years to come.