Produced by: Broadway By The Bay
Directed by: Jasen Jeffrey
Choreographed by: Nicole Helfer
Music direction by: Alicia Jeffrey
Featuring: Raquel Nicole Jetè, Shaun Leslie Thomas, Caitlin McGinty, Montel Nord, Vida Mae Fernandez, Benjamin Ball, Fred Feizollahi, Kylie Abucay, Pauli Amornkul, Clint Calimlim, Sofia Costantini, Javi Harnley, Alyssa Leonard, Ali Llacer, Neal Pascua, Daniel Lloyd Pias, and Angelica Scott
When: November 2-18, 2018
Where: Fox Theater, 2215 Broadway Street, Redwood City
Tickets: $44—$66. Call 650-579-5565 visit www.broadwaybythebay.org or visit the Box Office at 2219 Broadway Street, Redwood City
of the ancient tale of 'Aida'
One pharaoh, one pyramid, two princesses, and a sex-in-the-sand love affair doomed from the outset. Elton John and Tim Rice (both now “Sirs,” and responsible for successes together and separately such as “The Lion King,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and “Evita”) teamed up to write “Aida,” a rock musical that hit Broadway in 2000 and won four Tony awards.
Aida, princess of Nubia (Raquel Nicole Jetè), is captured by Radames (Shaun Leslie Thomas), a captain in the Egyptian army. She decries her stupidity for getting captured but knows there is no going back, singing “The Past Is Another Land.”
Not knowing her royal status, Radames gives her as a handmaiden to Amneris, daughter of Pharaoh, to whom he has been betrothed for some nine years. Aida shows she is no ordinary handmaiden as she discusses the benefits of a certain cloth. “A slave who knows her fabrics!” exclaims Amneris as she launches into “My Strongest Suit,” singing about her highly-developed fashion sense. The dancers do some nice “tutting” moves thanks to choreographer Nicole Helfer.
Amneris, played by the humorous and wonderfully talented Caitlin McGinty, takes life fairly easily, waited on hand and foot by her attentive handmaidens. She is “first in wisdom, beauty, and accessories,” a nicely camp Montel Anthony Nord as Mereb, Radames’ assistant. What she really wants is to be married to Radames, her betrothed. But he is always off making war and although they have known each other since childhood, they seem to have grown apart.
Aida is careful to keep her royalty a secret, but Radames is drawn to her feistiness. They draw closer and sing the lovely duet “Elaborate Lives.” Jetè has a strong voice with plenty of feeling, and Thomas as Radames matches her note for note. Aida cannot keep her royalty a complete secret, as Mereb, Radames assistant, is also from Nubia and knows her pedigree. He tells the other Nubian slaves, and at the Nubian camp they gather round Aida and sing the soaring spiritual, “The Gods Love Nubia.”
Set design by Mark Mendelson is wonderfully evocative and smoothly transforms the expansive Fox Theater stage from desert sands to the banks of the river Nile, to Pharaoh’s palace and back again. And lighting by Michael Oesch takes us moodily from sunlight to sunset. Tim Rice’s lyrics all fit together nicely and Elton John’s music swings from Amneris lamenting her wasted life in “I Know The Truth” to a full-on rock number with “Like Father Like Son,” sung by Zoser (Benjamin Ball) and Radames.
The music has Sir Elton’s mark all over it and one can easily imagine his voice in many of the numbers.
The story moves on and Aida’s father, the king of Nubia, is captured and sentenced to die. But Aida and Mereb hatch a plan to free him on the day of the wedding of Radames and Amneris. Sadly they are discovered; Radames tries to let them go, but fails. He is now a traitor to the Pharaoh and must be buried alive, as must Aida. They put their love before family and politics and must pay the price. The magnanimous Amneris, knowing that she can’t have Radames, asks that Aida and Radames be buried in the desert together.
And so the love story ends with sand in the sandwiches, though as Amneris succeeds her father to the throne, she promises no more war, and peace reigns in the land.
Aida ran on Broadway for five years and has toured all over the world. It’s a great show for the family with varied music and dancing, some wonderfully uplifting singing, and a storyline that will tug at the heartstrings of even the most jaded voter.