Fine arts students at Notre Dame High School are putting the finishing touches on Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida.
Shows runs Feb. 14-16 at the Memorial Centre. Curtain is 7 p.m. There will also be a matinee on Feb. 16 at 1 p.m.
John and Rice’s 1998 show is a contemporary take on a classic tale of the bond between an enslaved Nubian princess and an Egyptian soldier. As forbidden love blossoms, the lovers are forced to face death or part forever.
Together, they set a ‘shining example of devotion that ultimately transcends the vast cultural differences between their warring nations, heralding a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity’. The show is performed in two acts based on Giuseppe Verdi’s Italian-language opera by the same name, the scenario of which was originally written by Auguste Mariette.
“I learned about the play when I was in high school, and I saw it on Broadway when I was about 23 back in theatre school,” explains fine arts instructor Jennifer Cocolicchio. “I was really blown away by the music – it’s really quite powerful. The story is a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ type story, and it’s full of deep meaning, hope, passion and standing up for what is right.”
With a compelling and eclectic pop-rock score featuring stirring ballads and choral numbers showcasing a range of international styles, Aida has been described as a modern crowd-pleaser that embraces multi-cultural casting and exuberant dancing, staging and singing.
“It actually started as an opera, and then they took the story and made it into a Broadway musical.”
The musical, now titled Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, premiered on Broadway in March of 2000 and closed in the fall of 2004 after 30 previews and 1,852 performances. Over the years, it’s also proven to be a major international hit having been translated into about 14 languages, according to Wikipedia.
In selecting the show for this season, Cocolicchio said she’s always looking for material that will challenge her students and she likes to rotate the kinds of shows the school presents as well.
“The last couple of years we did The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music, so we were ready for something maybe more musically challenging than Oz was, and something with a deeper plot and deeper meaning. This one kind of fit the bill,” she said.
“I think it reminds us of what truly matters,” she added of the production’s essence. “It’s about love – something we can all relate to and something we all experience in different ways, perhaps. It’s like a universal language – like music.
“And I think that musicals in general and themes like this always will offer audiences moments when we can see ourselves in struggles we are going through. Or that we have dealt with, and also see the resolution and the strength to overcome.
“I think that’s the inspiration people will hopefully find in this play.
“And as much as this is a Romeo and Juliet story, there are also themes regarding differences between peoples and peace in times of war. That is something that is really significant right now.”
This year’s cast numbers almost 30, and there are 23 songs featured throughout the course of the show. Aida features three lead roles as well, performed by Shaeane Jimenez, Michael Marcinek and Tevra Plamondon.
“The joy for me is seeing the students rise to the occasion. It is a lot of work, and it’s often a struggle with different things. Doing any kind of project like this that is so epic and such a commitment, you push yourself to the point of breaking.
“But to see the students push out of that comfort zone and create something that is so inspiring – it inspires me in life, it inspires me in my teaching and as an artist. I feel like they astonish me every year. And this cast is no exception.”
Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students (18 and under).
They are available at https://esnd.inviteright.com/aida or call the school office for more information at 403-342-4800.