When the curtain rises on Stagecrafters’ season finale, Elton John & Tim Rice’s AIDA, audiences will see the time honored story of the classic opera anew. With a backdrop of eye-popping, oversize set pieces and opulent costuming recalling Egypt’s rich past, this completely fresh Aida features a wide range of musical styles including Pop, Reggae, Motown, and World Music that keep it firmly in the present. The show runs May 22ndthrough June 7th at the historic Baldwin Theatre, 415 S. Lafayette in downtown Royal Oak.
“For those only familiar with the Verdi opera of the same name, this Aida will truly be an eye opener and a treat for the ears. Get ready to jump through time and be mesmerized by songs that will make you tap your feet, songs that will make you cry, and songs that will make you want you to get up and dance in the aisle,” says director John Luther of Farmington.
“If the audience does have preconceived notions, hopefully it is that the musical basically remains true to the story they know. Beyond that, the only resemblance to the opera is that the story is epic and sweeping,” says Luther.
Framed by present-day lovers meeting in a museum among ancient Egyptian antiquities, the modern-day gives way to the Egypt of long ago, at war with neighboring Nubia. Political intrigue smolders as a high-ranking official, Zoser (Jason Skidmore of Dearborn), is slowly poisoning the Pharaoh, (Michael Ameloot of Detroit) and grooming his son, Radames (Dez Walker of Royal Oak), victorious from battle, to marry the princess, Amneris (Christiana Perrault of Southfield), and rule Egypt. Radames, however, is more taken with the princess’ enslaved Nubian handmaiden, the spirited Aida (Arielle Crosby of Detroit).
Soon, a mutual attraction between Aida and Radames blossoms into a secret forbidden love as they find themselves caught between their love for each other and their allegiance to their respective countries.
Aida has another secret, which she keeps from her Egyptian captors: she is a Nubian princess. Bound by her duty, she keeps the Nubians’ spirits high, among them Mereb (Emmanuelle Frowner of Farmington Hills), Radames’ servant, and Nehebka (Randi Hamilton of Ferndale). Meanwhile, she is united with her father, the Nubian king Amonasro (Jeffery Nelson of Farmington Hills), when he is captured.
Aida’s plan to escape with her father is interrupted by Radames, who learns her true identity. When Radames assists in the Nubian king’s escape, the secret affair is exposed and the lovers are sentenced to death for treason. Sealed alive in a tomb, Aida and Radames vow to find each other again in another life.
“Since the show itself transcends time and space, we are able to use a multitude of choreographic styles to match the eclectic Elton John score. The show itself is unique in that it draws upon many musical and choreographic styles. Having a heavy influence by Bob Fosse, the late choreographer, I naturally inject that type of movement into everything I create. I am able to incorporate that influence into isolated movements and even riff on isolations in the African Dance style seen in “Dance of the Robe”… one of the choreographic highlights of the show. In addition, the Motown infused “My Strongest Suit,” in which Amneris confesses her passion for clothing, leads us to one of the most fantastical moments in the show, a full on extravagant Fashion Show,” says Luther.
Aida features music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and a book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, and David Henry Hwang. Loosely based on Giuseppe Verdi’s 1871 opera of the same name, Aida opened March 23, 2000, at Broadway’s Palace Theatre and ran for 1,852 performances to close Sept 5, 2004. Produced by Disney (the company’s first Broadway production not adapted from one of its existing movies), Aida re-united John and Rice after their successful The Lion King collaboration. The show was nominated for five 2000 Tony Awards — and won four: Best Actress, Best Lighting Design, Best Original Musical Score, and Best Scenic Design.
Patrons attending the May 22 opening night performance are invited to attend the 7 pm pre-glow with complimentary light hors d’oeuvres, courtesy of Café Muse of Royal Oak, and beverages courtesy of Stagecrafters.
Advance tickets for performances are $20 on Thursdays, $22 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Tickets may be purchased online at www.stagecrafters.org (online handling fees apply) or by phone at 248-541-6430 using Visa or MasterCard. All seats are reserved and there are no refunds or exchanges on individual tickets. If shows have not sold out, tickets can be purchased at the box office one hour prior to the performance for an additional $2 per ticket. Student, military and senior discounts are available for specific performances. The Baldwin Theatre is located at 415 S. Lafayette in downtown Royal Oak.
Show dates and times follow:
Friday, May 22 8:00 pm
Saturday, May 23 8:00 pm
Sunday, May 24 2:00 pm
Thursday, May 28 8:00 pm
Friday, May 29 8:00 pm
Saturday, May 30 8:00 pm
Sunday, May 31 2:00 pm
Thursday, June 4 8:00 pm
Friday, June 5 8:00 pm
Saturday, June 6 8:00 pm
Sunday, June 7 2:00 pm
Stagecrafters, a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit community theatre, is in its 59th year of providing opportunities for members of the community to develop their talents and to volunteer their time to create an enriching, quality theatrical experience through its Main Stage, 2nd Stage, and Youth Theatre productions. At the Baldwin Theatre since 1985, Stagecrafters has been named Best Community Theatre by Hour Detroit, Real Detroit Weekly and Daily Tribune.
Stagecrafters offers shows that appeal to a wide variety of ages and interests and prides itself on providing professional quality shows at affordable prices, making the performing arts accessible to individuals in our “regional” community.