Aida, directed by Peter Rothstein, is presented as the touching love story of a captured Nubian princess and an Egyptian Captain. As it was, I felt the romance was a stumbling block to the part of the story that was, for me, far more interesting, the politics and friendship between Aida and Amneris. If Aida is a great love story, than the direction could have been improved, as I found the romantic plot to be an obstacle to the more interesting plot points.
While the aerialists were not a necessary part of the story, they were certainly a successful part of the spectacle, and for me, the highlight of the show. The gorgeous lyra routine was performed by aerialists José Bueno and Justen Pohl. Their kneebacks and straddle back balances had perfect form, with their toes pointed, their knees straight, and their backs curved in crescent moons. They performed impressive foot and neck holds I had never seen before (and would like to try), all while adding to to the ambience of the show instead of detracting from the story.
I was impressed by the vocals for this musical. There was a moment when I thought Radame was singing, but it was in fact Austene Van as Aida . Her voice is gorgeous and strong, and her range is amazing!
I also loved Amneris’ (Cat Brindisi’s) voice and performance. She started out as comedic and somewhat shallow, then developed into a strong, intriguing character.
The combination of Elton John and and ancient Egypt seems like it would be, as Peter Rothstein wrote in the Playbill, “a disconnect between content and form,” but it worked quite well. It wasn’t authentic to the time period, but it matched the cheekier characters, was used in appropriate places in the scenes, and was arranged to fit the feel of the show.
The historical accuracy was-- Wait, there was none! Silly me. I guess I shouldn’t have expected it, but it was disappointing nonetheless.
I was pulled out of the performance somewhat by the costume choices. Jeans, Converse... kilts? Where did that come from? I was informed that this was intentional, but had I been the costume designer (Tulle & Dye), I would have definitely taken a more realistic route.
I was surprised by the choice of eye-candy. Besides Amneris’ costumes (which actually served the story), none of the women’s costumes were remarkably revealing. Radame, however, must be allergic to Egyptian cotton. He wasn’t the only one. The men hated shirts. Shall I go on a rant about the sexualization of men in our culture? Well, I shouldn’t rant about gender equality in my reviews, so I won’t continue (you narrowly escape). But this is an issue. I must admit though, I found the contrast a little amusing.
I’d recommend Aida to anyone who is in the mood for a vastly inaccurate but surreal look into ancient Egypt and it’s politics, good music, and a magical lyra routine.