Aida Review

Sharon Niedringhaus, Writer

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On April 11, 12, and 13, the Tuscarora Performing Arts Department presented the musical “Aida” by Elton John and Tim Rice. The musical begins in an Ancient Egyptian exhibit in a museum. As museum visitors mill around looking at the displays, a voice is heard singing which turns out to be a statue of the Egyptian queen Amneris. The audience is then transported to Ancient Egypt, where the Egyptian army is taking conquest over surrounding areas, including Nubia, whose residents are taken as slaves. The captain of the army, Radames (played by Justin Barish), is just coming back from a recent attack on Nubia from which they bring new slaves. One of these slaves is Aida (Kiana Walker) who, unknown to the Egyptians, is the Nubian princess. Radames gifts Aida to the princess Amneris (Elizabeth Jakab), to whom he is betrothed. Meanwhile, the pharaoh (Ethan Downs) is dying due to an evil plot by Zoser (Jonah Milam) to kill the pharaoh so his son, Radames, can take the throne. Despite the conflicts around them, Radames and Aida fall in love, forcing them to choose between their duty to their countries and their love.

I went to see Aida on opening night, April 11. I already had high expectations due to previous productions put on at Tuscarora and what I heard about the show beforehand. All of my expectations were met and exceeded. The leads were extremely well cast and made the characters really come to life. The ensemble was equally talented, bringing the world of Ancient Egypt to life. For example, the scenes with Zoser and the ministers were very intense, making me believe that they were evil, even though I recognized many of the faces on stage. The costumes were also very well done, reflecting the characters and the setting accurately. The actors also knew how to present themselves on stage and always came on in character, even when they were moving set pieces in the background. Vocally, the performers were strong, in solos as well as group numbers. The song “The Gods Love Nubia”, which closes the first act, was especially impactful to me and reinforced the strength of the previous scenes of the act. There were a few technical difficulties, the most noticeable being when Amneris’ microphone seemed to stop working towards the end. However, this didn’t take away from the show.

Overall, the show was very well done. It was clear that everyone had worked hard and enjoyed being part of the production. The only complaint I have has to do with audience etiquette. People turning their phones on and taking pictures of the show were very distracting since the screens were extraordinarily bright in the dark theater. For future reference, when attending a live performance, please be courteous to those around you and put your cell phones away. Congratulations to the cast and crew of “Aida” for putting on a great show!

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