Aida – Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in Plymouth Meeting, PA
March 15, 2016
Review by: Clarisse Cofrancesco of Unionville High School
A story of star-crossed lovers torn apart by two countries at war, Aida is the sort of tragic story that haunts you for its realistic demonstration of a grand, yet savage time period. However, with a score by Elton John and Time Rice, the story also takes on a distinct, modern twist that thrills audiences of all kinds. All of these aspects and more proved a spectacular success on the Plymouth Whitemarsh High School stage.
Originally written in the late nineteenth century as an opera by Guiseppe Verdi, Aida found new light when Disney decided to take it to Broadway. Here, the tale of the betrothed Egyptian Captain Radames fallen for the Nubian princess Aida, won four Tony awards. Since, Aida has been a classic to the stage, but has proved a challenge for its vanishing scenery and dynamic voice parts, which is exactly why all applause go to the Colonial Players for tackling such a difficult production.
From Ameris’s opening number “Every Story is a Love Story” to the resounding “The Gods Love Nubia” to the heartbreaking “Written in the Stars,” the Plymouth Whitemarsh cast and crew marched in and conquered. Delivering a fantastic performance, the Colonial Players brought to life a pure devotion to one’s country, a lively chemistry between characters, and the humor necessary to entertain.
In particular, the main cast was highly successful in providing these aspects. Federica Andino-Vega as Aida, Robert Gervasi as Radames, and Lauren Quigley as Amneris all effortlessly portrayed their characters and kept the interest high throughout large group numbers and spotlight solos. Federica Andino-Vega’s powerful and spirited voice was especially noteworthy in her duet “Written in the Stars” and solo “Easy as Life”; In both respects, it helped to develop her character into superb stage presence.
However, the supporting cast cannot be disregarded because they, as well, exceeded expectations and filled the stage with their energy. Jack Travis as Mereb was, in all essence, the loyal and dutiful subject his character demanded and consistently proved a foil to Aida. Another standout was Rachel Butcher as Nehebka for her angelic voice which was clearly heard in all the group numbers.
Lighting in this show was, above all, one of the most beautiful and captivating aspects of the show. The screens in the background and the spotlight angles in “Easy as Life” masterfully transitioned the mood and set the scenes.
Aida‘s tragic nature is a difficult show for a high school to perform not only from a costuming and set standpoint, but, purely for its intense nature. Yet, the Colonial Players showed no hindrance due to these challenges and quite simply performed the show down to its core. Bravo!
Review by: Jane Mentzinger of Westtown School
Plymouth Whitemarsh’s production of Aida was a stunning theatrical achievement.
Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, based on the Italian opera, tells the story of an enslaved princess who reluctantly becomes her people’s martyr and savior. Originally intended to be an animated feature film, the show feels Disney-esque, but with darker overtones.
Plymouth Whitemarsh’s production of Aida was beyond brilliant. It had everything: flawless leads, an ensemble with incredible talent, and beautiful tech work.
Federica Andino-Vega was Aida, and she inhabited the role with a ferocity and charm that empowered her amazing vocals. Under Aida’s spell, Radames, played by the equally talented Robert Gervasi, was transformed from the egomaniacal, misogynous tyrant of the bath scene to the courageous, honorable prince ready to give his life for love and country. The shift was believable given the chemistry between the two leads, which was palpable enough to make the youngest audience members squirm.
Lauren Quigley’s portrayal of Amneris, the Pharaoh’s daughter betrothed to Radames, was so mesmerizing that we didn’t even question her character’s rather abrupt transformation from ditzy fashionista to beneficent political leader. Her rendition of “My Strongest Suit,” the pinnacle of her self-absorbed phase, was a show-stopping, hysterical romp. Jack Travis, as Nubian slave Mereb stunned the audience with his amazing vocals, shown by his beautiful rendition of “How I Know You.” Cole Walther, as Zoser, embodied the classic Disney villain- evil, scheming and sassy. Walther’s flamboyance filled the stage in his performance of “Another Pyramid.” The production also showcased some major ensemble talent, from the belly dancers, who were perfectly in step, to the Women of the Palace, whose fun dancing in “My Strongest Suit” delighted the audience. Rachel Butcher, as Nehebka, only had a few solos but wowed the audience with her voice. The entire cast came together to make “The Gods Love Nubia” a show-stopper.
The set design was brilliant and innovative. It featured color changing LED light panels that were swiftly and quietly moved around by the stage crew to create different settings and moods. Their marketing and publicity was extensive, with everything from T-shirts and stickers to Instagram and Facebook.
Aida checked the box in every category, from talent to energy to polish. Were you ever to see a high school show, this should be the one.