Northwest NEWS

May 21, 2001

Entertainment

Going Out: Experience the magic of 'Aida'

by Deborah Stone
   The Tony award-winning musical "AIDA," featuring music and lyrics by the dynamite duo Elton John and Tim Rice, is currently captivating audiences at The Paramount Theatre.
   This ingeniously staged show, directed by Robert Falls, is a feast for the senses with its spectacular sets, splashy costumes, crowd-pleasing score and dynamic choreography.
   The mythic story (based on Giuseppe Verdi's 1871 opera of the same name) retells the tale of an Egyptian love triangle between Aida, the Nubian princess stolen from her country; her capturer, the Egyptian noble Radames; and his fiancé Amneris, the future queen. Aida and Radames become passionately entangled and their forbidden love eventually forces all three characters to make choices that greatly impact their lives and alter the course of history.
   Elements of racial prejudice and hatred are conquered by love, compassion and forgiveness, proving once again that the strength of the human spirit triumphs over evil.
   Talent oozes from the cast, with kudos given especially to actress/singer Simone for her portrayal of the beautiful, proud Aida, torn between the love of her people and the love she has for Radames, a man she knows is her true kindred spirit.
   Wowing audiences with a voice that possesses power, depth and soul, Simone makes Aida come alive.
   With simply a glance, an intake of breath or a slight movement of the shoulders, she is capable of showing her character's inner strength and deep emotions, never letting anyone forget who she is, was and will be.
   Simone shares the stage with two other gifted performers, who include Kelli Fournier, as the Egyptian princess Amneris and Jason Workman as Radames.
   Fournier is the perfect valley girl of Egypt, more interested in her fashion statement than her affairs of state.
   She brings down the house in her signature song, "My Strongest Suit," which leads into a glittery, over-the-top Egyptian fashion show, featuring some of the wildest couture ever to grace the stage (obviously influenced by Elton John's own collection!).
   Fournier also has the capability to display change and subsequent depth in her character, making her more than just the ditsy, appearance-obsessed woman that audiences see during the first half of the production.
   Workman is the standby for actor-singer Patrick Cassidy, who is the designated Radames for the run of the show (on opening night Cassidy was ill).
   He makes a convincing Egyptian soldier who also displays the ability to transform himself over the course of time into a man who has discovered the truth about his life.
   Workman's voice is strong and pleasing, and he cuts an impressive figure on stage. He is definitely suited for the role and is up to the challenge of stepping in for the lead when necessary.
   Scenery and costume designer Bob Crowley is another star of this show. He is a wonder-worker and his sets are stunning and imaginative, including backdrops of a Nile riverbank with shadows of palm trees reflected in water, a vertical swimming pool that actors float effortlessly across, a simple evocation of a jail and a museum's Egyptian wing, which serves as the scene for both the opening and closing moments of the show (an artful technique used to place the action in the present).
   The score for "Aida" is eclectic, with inviting songs and luscious melodies that are catchy and appealing in their soft-rock style.
   They range from bittersweet ballads and gospel renditions to reggae and retro-rock sounds, entertaining and propelling the show forward. "Aida" is a sensory experience, guaranteed to delight and astound audiences, but don't forget the tissue as there won't be a dry eye in the house.
   The show runs through May 26. For tickets, call (206) 292-ARTS.