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Cast Hard at Work as AIDA School Edition Nears

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Cast Hard at Work as AIDA School Edition Nears

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Pascal Portney and Shweta Akolkar rehearse for the upcoming spring musical, Aida School Edition.

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North Penn High School Theatre will present Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA School Edition April 25, 26, 27 at 7:30 PM with a family matinee April 27 at 2:00 PM and the popular Gold Card Matinee on April 24 at 1:00 PM.  As the date inches closer, cast memebrs are diligently preparing for the much anticipated spring musical, which annual draws thousands to the NPHS auditorium.

After their amazing success with The Lion King, Disney Productions asked John and Rice to write a second musical set in Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs.  Initially conceived as an animated feature, as the project unfolded the creative team realized what they were really writing was a Broadway musical.  The basic story was inspired by opera star Leontyne Price’s children’s book about Princess Aida, a role Ms. Price had sung many times to critical acclaim in Verdi’s original opera.  While this Aida nods to Verdi’s original, Elton John points out that “this one is not an opera.  It’s truly a pop musical, with spoken dialogue. There are very urban-based, rhythm ‘n’ blues, gospel-inspired songs, and kind of ‘Crocodile Rock’ songs . . . and ballads, of course.”  The Broadway show opened on March 3, 2000 and played 1,852 performances.  Audiences were thrilled by both the national tour and several international productions. North Penn High School Theatre’s production is continuing the tradition of presenting a visually stunning production and a nearly 50 member cast of talented actors, singers, and dancers who have accepted the challenge of this intricate musical.

 

Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA School Edition is the timeless love story of Aida, princess of Nubia (Shweta Akolkar, senior) who is captured and enslaved by Captain Radames (Pascal Portney, senior). From their first meeting Aida and Radames are attracted to each other, but their situations as slave and conqueror and their responsibilities to their respective countries and peoples make their growing love impossible.  Radames is also engaged to be married to Pharaoh’s daughter, Amneris (Kuhoo Verma, junior), a childhood friend who loves him, but Radames has been more interested in exploring new worlds than settling down.  Radames’s father, Zoser (Alex Breth, junior), has other plans.  He has been maneuvering for Radames to be the ailing Pharaoh’s successor and upon Radames’s return from conquering Nubia, insists that his son stay home and marry the Princess Amneris.  As more pressure is put on Radames, including an announced wedding date by an alarmingly ill Pharaoh (Tyler Ivey, junior), he seeks out the company of Aida who understands his longing for choosing his own life and leaving the shackles of responsibility and duty.  Aida herself struggles with the needs of her fellow Nubian slaves who look to her to lead them out of Egypt to freedom.  Encouraged by a fellow slave, Mereb (Cory Taylor, junior), who has been planning for an escape, she is forced to acknowledge that her duties as a princess are inescapable.  The tension heightens as Radames’s men bring home the captured Nubian king, Aida’s father, Amonasro (Jessein Varughese, senior).  Aida learns he has been sentenced to death, a sentence only she and Mereb can hope to prevent.  But time is running out especially for Aida and Radames to find a way to reconcile their love with their duty.

 

As with all North Penn High School Theatre musicals, Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA School Edition, was selected because it provided the best fit with the current company of actors, singers, musicians, set and costume students currently in the program.  It has been a few years since the group presented a “modern” pop musical and it has been an exciting process. The nearly 150 talented students in the acting company, technical crews, and orchestra, have embraced the music, the dances (that range from a “Supremes-style” number complete with shimmering dresses to East Indian and African dance), the building of pyramids and exotic props for the set, and the creation of the vast array of costumes reflecting the Egyptian court dress, Egyptian soldiers and merchants, and the Nubian slaves.  This is a multi-layered show with a message of tolerance and acceptance that celebrates the diversity and depth of the human spirit and the redeeming power of love.  The company has discovered the many layers to the story while exploring the richness of both the Egyptian and Nubian cultures of long ago.  And there are some really jaw-dropping technical effects that have challenged the light and sound crews!

 

Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA School Edition is a show not to be missed.  Catch any of the four public performances April 25, 26, 27 at 7:30 PM and the family matinee April 27 at 2:00 PM.  Senior Citizens of the community are invited to the Gold Card Matinee on April 24 at 1:00 PM.  Tickets are only $10 for Adults and $5 for Students.  Ticket order forms are available at www.npenn.org or you can call (215) 853-1352.  Gold and Silver cards are honored.  Tickets are also available one-half hour before every performance!  Great seats are still available for all shows; reserve your seats now!  You can also “friend” NPHS Theatre on Facebook for up-to-the-minute rehearsal photographs and interviews with the students producing the show.

 

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Cast Hard at Work as AIDA School Edition Nears