News Column

This 'Aida' fun for kids of all ages [Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL)]

July 17, 2013

YellowBrix

Community Players Theatre continues its summer tradition of offering quality, family-friendly entertainment with its current production, Elton John and Tim Rice's "Aida."-

The timeless love story, based on Verdi's opera of the same name, tells an intriguing tale of corruption fed by greed and ambition, and an unexpected love which erupts amidst the chaos of war.

The story follows the tragic paths of Egyptian Princess Amneris;- her childhood friend and promised bridegroom, Radames; and Aida, the enslaved Nubian princess who steals his heart unexpectedly just as he is to wed the ailing Pharaoh's daughter.

This version, inspired by a children's storybook of the opera written by soprano Leontyne Price, was on its way to becoming another animated blockbuster for Disney, but instead found its way to Broadway, garnering four Tony Awards, including Best Musical Score.

Under the masterful direction of Alan Wilson, with musical direction by Jo Lynn Robinson, "Aida" features an impressive and committed ensemble which provides exemplary support for the notable lead actors - Jennifer Stevens as Amneris, Austin Travis as Radames and the incomparable Jennifer Rusk as Aida. --

In her role as Amneris, Stevens successfully transitions from a superficial and entitled young princess to a noble and compassionate leader who follows her heart, even while it is breaking.

Travis, as Radames, shines in his struggles, as he questions his life's purpose and his duties to his father, his people and to himself.

And Rusk is perfection as the proud and regal Nubian princess, who refuses to abandon her principles, even though it may cost her her life. She gives a captivating and triumphant performance that left me breathless more than once.-

(Please note: Performances on July 18 and 25 will feature understudies Kallie Bundy as Amneris, Chris Stanford as Radames and Vicky Snyder as Aida.)

Wilson and Robinson collaborated on the costumes, while the choreography is by Wendy Baugh and the impressive playing space is designed by Chris Terven.

Suitable for all ages, this production should find its way onto everyone's "to do" list.-

Patricia Stiller is a freelance writer who reviews plays for The Pantagraph.-

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