When I first heard the music from Aida six years ago, it became one of my favorite musicals. Yet, I was never able to see the show until now. Theater Latté Da’s production of Aida was absolutely fabulous. Aida was created by Elton John and Tim Rice. Theater Latté Da’s version of this show was directed by award winning director Peter Rothstein, with choreography by Ivey award winning, Michael Matthew Ferrell.
My favorite actor in the production was Nathan Barlow, who played the character Mereb. However, this was not my first time seeing Barlow act. I grew up watching him in Children’s Theatre Company productions. Nathan Barlow sang How I Know You (Reprise) beautifully. He sounded so heartbroken and betrayed, which made it seem so real. Barlow’s dancing was also very fluid and it seemed like he was letting the music control his movements. Another of my favorites was Ben Bakken. Bakken was perfectly cast in the role of Zoser, Radames’ conniving father. He seemed to ooze evil from his pores. The way he used his riding crop to tell his minions where to push his chair made him seem unbearably cruel. The local actors singing voices surprised me. Many of the cast sounded as if they could be successful on Broadway. Austene Van, who played Aida, had an amazingly strong and lovely voice. During Easy As Life she stunned the audience with her vocal power. As an actor, there were many people in this show that I would love to work with.
I would have to say that Aida had the best dancing of any show so far this season. The dancing melded with the music and the acting to create one entity. The dance sequence that I liked the most was The Gods Love Nubia. All the actors were so in tune with the beat, and you could feel the power of the song flowing through the room.
The sets were beautiful, but I thought that it sometimes distracted from the show. My favorite set was the museum at the beginning and at the end of the show, which was also used in the Disney production of Aida. This production was a contemporary spin on Aida. There was a rock band that took up the back half of the stage. One part of the set that I did not care for was a large fabric screen that was used one too many times. It was most distracting when it was held up as a ceiling right before the scene when Amneris sings I Know The Truth.
Aida is a collaboration between Hennepin Theatre Trust and Theater Latté Da for the new Broadway Re-Imagined program. This was a show that depended on talent from the Twin Cities and was the caliber of a Broadway tour. I definitely advise people to go see this show and quickly, since it closes on the twenty-seventh of January. Aida lived up to all of my hopes. I would counsel parents to not bring children under the age of ten, due to multiple death scenes and a few sexual references.