Aida is the story of a Nubian Princess and an Egyptian captain, whose treacherous love becomes their downfall. Radames (Jared Oxborough) and his crew find Aida (Austene Van) and several other Nubian women exploring the border close to Egypt. When Aida recklessly sneaks and flails a stolen sword from one of Radames’s henchmen, Radames’s feelings towards Aida become very apparent. You could feel the romantic tension between those two. Mereb (Nathan Barlow) instantly recognizes Aida for who she really is (a princess, certainly not a slave), and approaches Aida with the truth. He leaks her secret, and Aida becomes the epitome of the oppressed Nubian people. The nature of Radames’ martial status is actually revealed as betrothed to Ammeris, the daughter of Pharaoh. Aida becomes torn between her love for her country, her people, and her “written in the stars” love Radames.
The quality that sets this musical apart from the others I’ve seen this season was the fact that the set was not all that impressive. There was minimal set elements, such as a large Pharaoh head that was the synecdoche for the sickly Pharaoh himself and the Egyptian obelisk structure. But because this was really set in ancient Egyptian times, the costuming job was appropriate and elegant. Another unique piece of the set were these sheets. The colored sheets may have seemed plain, but they spoke volumes (an example of this would be when a sand colored sheet would emit the shadowy siloulettes of chained Nubian women slugging in exhaustion from work, or when a brilliant blue would be representative of the Nile river). The pit band did an excellent job as well. Situated directly on stage, they banged their drums and moved their shakers, accompanying the gifted singers onstage.
The most commendable part of this musical were the singers. The actress playing Aida (Van) had such a strong voice, that the audience would be simply captivated by her presence. The relationship between Radames and Aida also worked well onstage, their chemistry probably making those who are single or without their loved one either feel very mushy or very uncomfortable, seeing as the love between them was a passionate one. The diabolical father of Radames, Zoser (Ben Bakken) did a very nice job as well. He played his part with a evil twinkle in his eye. The black uniforms, complete with the knee length pleated skirts that covered the Zoser’s minions and Zoser reminded me of when childish school boys would rally around one main leader. I also enjoyed Cat Brindisi ‘s role as Ammeris; in her second main number “My Strongest Suit”, she reminded me, at first, of Sharpay, from Disney’s High School Musical, but it became quite clear to me that she had a fantastic character that would become a redeeming factor to the play’s conclusion.
I do recommend this play for those who are romance type people. It is only showing for a few more nights, so go see it before it’s too late!