|Matthew Lang and Tanesha Ross in Aida (Jeff Orton)|
Seattle Musical Theatre
Through February 24, 2019
I regret to inform you that Seattle Musical Theatre presented a terrific production of Elton John’s musical, Aida, but you can’t see it because it’s closed. It was only three weekends long and one of those weekends was the Snow Event of the Century.
A lot of the praise for this production lies with Troy Wageman as director/choreographer. Troy has been a musical theater performer for years and done some terrific work on stage. But it’s his development into a musical theater director to be reckoned with that may be his best contribution to the art, because he truly has an eye for how to take a little and make it look like a helluva lot.
SMT doesn’t have a lot of money for sets or costumes or lights or sound. Sound in that Magnuson Park skinny rectangular theater, especially as managed by the patched together sound board, can be extremely hit or miss. But Troy knows how to manage that and knows who can manage it for him, and apparently Martin Sisk is a genius with that sound board. Why? Because the lead singers in this production sounded effing amazing. Loud and clear!
Secondarily, Troy knows who is around in the performing community and can choose, cajole, beg or otherwise recruit folks who maybe wouldn’t step into the SMT confines unless Troy is there – this is my opinion, not a known fact. The cast for this production included folks with experience at Village Theatre and the 5th Avenue Theatre which raised the bar on experience for the entire rest of the group.
Troy partnered with the creative Brandon Peck as music director who also knows where to find musicians who are willing to work with him to pull out a score that in lesser hands would sound muddy and underwhelming. Especially in that odd space. So, musically, the production also pulled off the complex score which is almost all sung, operetta-like.
The cast was headed by Matthew Lang as Radames, the young soldier whose father is aiming him toward the Egyptian crown. Lang showed his growth as a performer in this show with a lot of emoting and power.
He was matched by Tanesha Ross as Aida, the Nubian Princess captive, and while the script does an extremely poor job of showing why a Nubian princess would ever overcome her circumstances to care for her captor, Ross and Lang managed a credible amount of chemistry. Also Ross is a terrific singer and I was happy to see her perform again after some time off.
Other notable performances were a very funny Amneris, Alyssa Maas, the Egyptian princess who is engaged to Radames, and Timothy Glynn as Radames’ father, Zoser. The rest of the enthusiastic cast made good contributions. It was a bit of an odd directing choice to have cast members sort of wander around on the sidelines of the stage, but it was not that distracting.
The costumes of Sadiqua Crutcher were sumptuous and looked extremely expensive! It wasn’t possible that they really were expensive, so that was also a great achievement. All in all, I wish I could have encouraged you to go.
For information on upcoming productions, the next being Mamma Mia!, go to www.seattlemusicaltheatre.org.
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