New England Review: Star-Making Turn Lifts "Aida" at NSMT


Music by Elton John

Lyrics by Tim Rice

Book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls and David Henry Hwang

Direction by Stafford Arima

Musical direction by Andrew Graham

Choreography by Patricia Wilcox

Scenic Design by Bill Stabile

Costume Design by Randall Klein

Lighting Design by Kirk Bookman

Sound Design by John A. Stone

Cast in order of appearance:

Amneris, Janine LaManna

Radames, Brad Anderson

Aida, Montego Glover

Mereb, Derrick Baskin

Zoser, John Schiappa

Pharaoh, James Bodge

Nehebka, Q. Smith

Amonasro, J. Bernard Calloway

Performances: Now through November 21

Box Office: 978-232-7200 or

A powerful and compelling performance by Montego Glover as "Aida" is helping the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, Mass., end its 2004 season on a high note. As adept at handling the fierce determination of a willful Nubian princess as she is at expressing the uncertainties of a young woman in love, Glover captivates her audience as quickly as her Aida charms the Egyptian army captain Radames.

Described as "the timeless love story," Elton John and Tim Rice's "Aida" is more pop concert than Broadway musical. Their uneven score is a mixture of Egyptian, African and contemporary rhythms which vacillate between campy production numbers ("Another Pyramid" and "My Strongest Suit") and thematically repetitious power ballads ("Enchantment Passing Through," "Elaborate Lives," and "Written in the Stars"). A nice modern-day prologue and epilogue which establish the ancient love story as part of a museum tour guide's historical synopsis serve as touching and timeless counterpoints to the musical spectacle that unfolds. Other than the bit of romantic symmetry that this layering draws between two universes, however, the book is rather predictable and thin.

Yet, the scintillating performance by Glover elevates this production to a higher status than the material alone deserves. With tremendous sincerity and intensity, this stunning actress and singer transforms unremarkable songs like "The Past Is Another Land" and "Easy as Life" into bittersweet anthems to the tragedy that inevitably results when star-crossed lovers from an ancient time have to choose between duty and personal happiness. Glover shows us the maturity of a reluctant leader destined to sacrifice herself for her people in conflict with the romantic idealism of a Juliet who childishly dreams of escaping the realities of politics and war with her handsome Romeo at her side.

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Jan Nargi Jan Nargi is owner and creative director of JMN Publications, a marketing and public relations firm based in Boston, Mass. She provides consultation, communications, and writing services to clients in the health care, entertainment, financial, retail, manufacturing, non-profit, and sports industries. As a freelance writer, Jan has had hundreds of articles published in business and high-tech magazines. Theatrically, she has reviewed, written, directed, acted, produced, sung, danced, managed publicity, pounded nails, and designed lighting and sets. Jan has even acted in the occasional B-movie, playing a zombie, a psycho shrink, and a clueless news reporter. You may visit her on the web at

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