“Aida,” MUSKET’s first musical of the season, a powerhouse of contemporary music and ancient themes, bridges its extremes with a universal plotline: a love triangle.

“Aida”

Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Power Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets from $7

“Aida” has origins in an opera by the same name. The story focuses on the struggle of Aida, a Nubian princess and recently captured slave, and an Egyptian captain, Radames, to pursue their romance while remaining loyal to their combating countries.

“Aida” fulfilled the producers’ criteria of a show that was commercial and attention-grabbing, as well as artistically pleasing and comedic. Casting for the show began during the second or third week of classes with rehearsals immediately following.

MUSKET is a student-run theater group sponsored by the University Activities Center.

“I feel like Aida was a good compromise, because it’s a big show … but at the same time not many people have seen it because it hasn’t gone on tours,” said Patrick Fromuth, a senior in the school of Music, Theatre & Dance and one of the show’s producers.

With music written by Elton John and Tim Rice, “Aida” covers a broad spectrum of genres, ranging from rock to gospel to disco. The powerful soundtrack will reverberate through the Power Center via a 14-member student orchestra.

“The music can be removed from the musical and out of context it is still really relevant, and I think that’s just Elton John’s genius,” said Jake McClory an MT&D senior and music director for “Aida.” “There’s three songs that (Aida and Radames) sing twice. I thought it was really repetitive, but when you put it with the story, it made sense that they were going through these changes but feeling the same.”

The choreography mirrors the music’s variety of styles, but many of the dancers had minimal previous experience.

“It’s a blessing and a curse to work with a cast that doesn’t have a lot of dance training, but it’s been a beautiful challenge,” said Edith Freyer, a junior in LSA and MT&D and the show’s choreographer. “It came down to looking sharp and keeping things simple and trying to tell a greater story.”

“Aida” will still show off beautiful choreography with a featured dancer, Sadie Yarrington an LSA and MT&D senior.

“I’m not somebody who really understands dance, but when (Sadie) dances, I’m just in complete awe,” Fromuth added. “Seeing Sadie and Edith work truly makes me see the value and the talent it takes to do all of that.”

In addition to the music and dance spectacles of “Aida,” the set design is augmented with video projections, which will be operated by two alumni who came back to the University in order to use this equipment.

“It’s going to be like a movie mixed with theater, but it’s more or less highlighting what’s happening in the scene,” said Kathryn Pamula, a Business and MT&D junior and one of the producers. “This is where theater is going, and we have the opportunity to take more risks than otherwise.”

“It’s not one of those plays where we black out and there’s a scene change — its constantly flowing, kind of like our dreams,” added director Richard Grasso, an MT&D junior. “We’re not remembering everything, but the big impact moments of the dream.”

Evoking this dreamlike narrative state, the show begins and ends with a set resembling a modern-day museum. With the aid of video projectors, the audience is transported into the hazy storytelling space that exists for the majority of the musical. The artifacts and pieces in the museum will unravel an ancient Egyptian set in a surreal fashion.

“It’s book-ended with this museum scene so we can be reminded of the modern day audience and how this musical is still relevant to us regardless of the time period,” Grasso said. “It’s a timeless story … and we can relate to that today — whether it be through racial segregation, orientation segregation, we can still see that in modern times.”

Bringing “Aida” to a college stage brings increased relevance, as many of the themes in the show are applicable to students, particularly on this campus with our theme semester, “What makes life worth living?”

“Not only is it striking and stirring and sexy, it kind of plays into Mary Sue Coleman’s widening your worldview and cultural diversity at Michigan, which we take a lot of pride in,” Fromuth said. “The show is kind of a celebration of crossing those cultural divides.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.