Presented by The Hills Musical Company
Reviewed 5 May 2017
Bearing the same name and basically the same story as the Verdi opera, this more recent take on the tale has music supplied by Elton John and Time Rice. The book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls and David Henry Hwang is a Disney collaboration. The original script by Woolverton was reworked by director Robert Falls and David Henry Hwang (playwright and screen writer), leading to a successful run on Broadway. Hwang is well known for his successful play M Butterfly.
Director Lauren Scarfe with Mark Anolak has designed a simple set with little additional dressing and although it works well it does have its limitations not least of which is a noisy scrim. It would have benefited from a more varied lighting design. The costumes were a variation of styles, but given the mix of old world story and more modern music, they seemed to fit. So too the choreography is a little unusual, but Thomas Phillips has used the sharp movement to reflect the music to good effect.
True, there are a few niggles in the production, but the cast make them seem insignificant. In the title role of Aida, the captured Nubian princess, Rebecca Raymond is flawless. Her voice has the power and the sweetness required to make this a memorable production. Her love-interest, the conquering Egyptian Captain, Radames is played by Lindsay Prodea and there is a real connection on stage, which makes the ending extremely poignant. The spoilt diva-like Egyptian princess Ameris gives Teagan Gully the chance to not only display her beautiful voice, but to stretch her acting capabilities as she gains the audience sympathy for her plight. A really strong threesome to lead this production; outstanding in the trio A Step Too Far.
There are other memorable cast members: Chris Eaton as the Captain’s devious father Zoser, makes a welcome return to the stage joining Prodea in the strong Like Father Like Son’; Daniel Steven as the slave Mereb who supports and falls in love with Aida; Brad Martin as the Pharoah, father of Ameris, who is being slowly poisoned by Zoser; Amonasro, the Nubian King, father of Aida, played by her real father Howard Raymond demonstrating his wonderful bass voice and Kathryn Driver as Nebebka the Nubian slave who dies is Aida’s place.
The orchestra, under the musical direction of Kristy Williamson, although a little quiet in places was good, but the sound was uneven, enough to make the solo singers hard to hear occasionally. Putting any problems aside I will remember the beauty of Raymond’s voice in Easy As Life and the haunting duet Elaborate Lives. Another good Hills production.
Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Venue: Stirling Community Theatre
Season: 5 -20 May 2017
Duration: 2.5 hr
Tickets: Adult $31.70 Conc $27.70 Group $24.70 (8 or more)
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