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a Musical
by Elton John (music), Tim Rice (lyrics), and Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, David Henry Hwang (book)

COMPANY : Atlanta Lyric Theatre
VENUE : Jennie T. Anderson Theatre-Cobb Civic Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 5322

SHOWING : August 17, 2018 - September 02, 2018



Winner of four Tony Awards in 2000, Elton John and Tim Rice’s "Aida" is an epic tale of love, loyalty and betrayal, chronicling the love triangle between Aida, a Nubian princess stolen from her country, Amneris, an Egyptian princess, and Radames, the soldier they both love. An enslaved Nubian princess, Aida, finds her heart entangled with Radames, an Egyptian soldier who is betrothed to the Pharaoh’s daughter, Amneris. As their forbidden love blossoms, Aida is forced to weigh her heart against the responsibility that she faces as the leader of her people. Aida and Radames’ love for one another becomes a shining example of true devotion that ultimately transcends the vast cultural differences between their warring nations, heralding a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity.

Director Taylor Buice
Ensemble Joe Arnotti
Nehebka/Ensemble Candice McLellan
Pharaoh Matthew Sidney Morris
Ensemble J. Koby Parker
Radames Haden Rider
Mereb/Ensemble George Roberts
Ensemble Kari Twyman
Aida India Sada Tyree
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by playgoer
Sunday, August 19, 2018
The story of "Aida" is a very dramatic and tragic one. At Atlanta Lyric Theatre, director Taylor Buice lets us know this from the start, with strident intensity in almost every song and every line. It ends up sounding very much like a one-note production. Bubba Carr’s choreography doesn’t help, with dances seemingly styled after "So You Think You Can Dance," with a lot of stomps and spins, but with a notable lack of unison movement in execution.

Emmie Phelps Thompson’s costume design certainly has a style, but it’s neither Egyptian nor modern, tending toward the modern in an over-the-top catwalk scene and toward Egyptian inspiration in most of the court costumes. Lee Shiver-Cerone’s set design has a more consistent Egyptian styling, with some nice curtain work to suggest the closing of a tomb (although at a different point a curtain got stuck on a descending woven wood screen at the performance I attended). The show starts with an Eye of Horus symbol hanging in front of the curtain; when the curtain is raised, the same symbol is echoed in the stone back wall, although the top portion lifts to reveal a lovely palm-filled skyline.

Ben Rawson’s lighting design is what really brings sparkle and excitement to the production. A combination of pools of light on the stage and spotlights is frequently used, sometimes augmented by spinning lights and moving pools. It’s visually stunning.

Sound design by Bobby Johnston certainly makes everything audible (except for a few instances of late microphone turn-on), but the massed sound of pre-recorded tracks and all-out belting tends to make understandability a bit of an issue. Luckily, Tim Rice’s lyrics are often repetitive enough to let the flavor of each song come through, even if every word is not crystal clear under Christian Magby’s pop-inspired music direction.

Performances tend to be serviceable. Lauren Hill makes the best impression, as Amneris, transitioning nicely from a power ballad belt at the start to fine comedic timing and delivery in her initial scenes and to understated regality at the end. George P. Roberts also comes across well as loyal servant Mereb, with a terrific voice and empathetic performance. Leads Haden Rider (Radames, or "Ramades" in one program reference) and India Tyree (Aida) fall into the one-note stridency that underlies the entire production, although each has a powerful voice.

Ensemble work is okay. Joe Arnotti and J. Koby Parker, who play similar roles (and, being of similar stature, often do lifts in tandem) are representative of some of the problems with the production. Mr. Arnotti never fails to add a flourish that draws attention to him, while Mr. Parker tends to try to fade into the background. It typifies the unevenness of the production. Taylor Buice has directed a show that lacks nuance, although it seems to be wowing crowds with its non-stop power ballads and energetic lighting scheme. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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