photo by Nick Woodward-Shaw
Click here for more information on this production that runs through July 1st.
"Entering the theatre-in-the-round for the new production of the musical Aida at Gilbert’s Hale Centre Theatre is like being seated within the walls of a museum exhibit. Hieroglyphics of Ancient Egypt, or the words of gods, surround the house walls against a backdrop of painted stone. ..The statues standing there...are meant to be that of Aida, Princess of Nubia, and Radames, Captain of the Egyptian army, and it is their love story, introduced in song by the third member of the tragic love affair, Amneris, Princess of Egypt, that takes us and everyone else in the museum, back in time, when Pharaohs ruled.....a nicely directed, well-blocked production from M.Seth Raines who uses all areas of the house in order to tell the story...while the show can be admired for its invention and its in-the-round adaptation, it lacks in excitement, and that has a lot more to do with Elton John’s score with lyrics from Tim Rice than Hale’s production. ...Ben Mason’s Captain Radames conveys an effective sense of personal torment and conflict when torn between his duty and his love for two women, even if his singing voice lacks that extra punch required for these power ballads to come alive, while Victoria Fairclough’s spoiled daughter of Pharaoh injects much needed humor in the proceedings, describing herself as a princess with fabulous hair. But it’s with the show’s Aida, the princess taken into slavery, where the producers and casting directors, David and Corrin Dietlin, have hit the jackpot. ...making her Hale Centre debut, Ashley Jackson is simply glorious. She shines, with or without a spotlight....." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)
"...With a Tony winning score by Elton John and Tim Rice, and a hip updated book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls and David Harry Hwang, Aida focuses on a love triangle full of intrigue and romance. Hale Centre Theatre's production features three exceptional leads, sharp direction, and exquisite creative elements....While the musical is quite good, there are a few shortcomings in the score and book. Elton John's music is varied but it is also pop-rock ballad heavy and features two songs for Radames' father Zoser that are incredibly weak in their music style and the hip hop orchestrations that are vastly at odds with the rest of the score. ...the score sometimes interjects yet another ballad where dialogue could suffice. Fortunately, those ballads are all quite good. Also, the modern-day museum scenes that begin and end the show give the story an uplifting message that proves that love truly is eternal. While Hale can't do much to fix the few small drawbacks in the score and book, their three leads are superb, with Ashley Jackson making a sensational debut in her first performance at Hale. ..Jackson is simply exquisite as this fierce and forceful yet entirely passionate woman. As Radames, Ben Mason's ability to portray the character's infatuation and intrigue of Aida through his keen facial expressions and subtle gestures is exceptional. ...Victoria Fairclough's singing voice, with earthy, gutsy tones and a strong clarity, is equally adept in ensuring that Amneris' songs soar. ...Director M. Seth Reines, choreographer Cambrian James, and music director JR McAlexander form a dynamic trio who deliver nonstop and striking vocals and visuals throughout. ...The combination of a gifted cast who deliver stunning vocals, crisp staging, and Hale's always impressive creative elements manage to offset most of the small issues I have with the score and book, which makes Hale's Aida a powerful and emotionally rich musical journey. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)
"... Sir Elton John and Tim Rice's AIDA, their blockbuster adaptation of Giuseppe Verdi's opera, now pulling heart strings at Hale Centre Theatre...Ashley Jackson, Victoria Fairclough, and Ben Mason deliver towering, indeEd Royal, performances that imbue this production with sustained warmth, integrity, and vitality and their characters with distinctive and relatable authenticity....In the end, true love is affirmed. What is also affirmed is the intelligent direction of M. Seth Reines and the extraordinary talent of his gifted cast. " - Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)