Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: Seattle Musical Theatre's Awesome AIDA is Their Strongest Suit!

Review: Seattle Musical Theatre's Awesome AIDA is Their Strongest Suit!
Matthew Lang and Tanesha Ross in
Seattle Musical Theatre's production of
Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida.
Photo credit: Michael Brunk

Before any theater company even considers attempting Elton John and Tim Rice's rock musical "Aida", they need to have, at the very least, four things in place. An awesome band to back up the amazing ensemble. A dashing Radames and a larger than life Amneris, both with fantastic pipes of their own, and of course a killer Aida who can handle the powerful, belt your face off in the back-row songs she has to sing throughout. Enter Seattle Musical Theatre who has had a rocky time of it as of late but has been struggling to make a comeback. And with their current production of "Aida" and I'm thrilled to report from that list; check, check, check, and CHECK!!! Now before we move on I must inform you that thanks to Snowmageddon 2019, Seattle Musical Theatre had to cancel their entire opening weekend of this production, and by the time this is up after me seeing it over the second weekend you'll only have one weekend left. Start making plans for seeing it during that weekend while you read the rest of this.

First off, the love story, or should I say triangle? Or should I say love pyramid? We have Radames (Matthew Lang), the captain of the Egyptian army coming back from their latest raid of the Nubian people. He has been quite successful but what he doesn't know is that he's brought back as one of the slaves, the Nubian Princess Aida (Tanesha Ross). Her strong will and sharp wit work their way into the Captain's heart but that causes a problem as he's betrothed to the Pharaoh's daughter Amneris (Alyssa Maas). So, will their love overcome their divided lands and years of oppression?

OK, enough of that, let's get to the production. As I said, SMT's had some problems lately. Their sound system isn't the greatest so the mics pop and cut in and out, and their budgets have a hard time putting up quality shows. Well, director and choreographer Troy Wageman was quite smart with his staging of this considering the limitations. The set is quite sparse, as opposed to the spectacle this show can be, with just a few gauzed frames indicating the largest piece and then thoughtfully moved to the background for much of the show leaving a large playing space with just an indication of the museum setting that bookends the show and he uses it beautifully. And as for those mics and sound mixing, well they must have worked it out as there were a few pops and one instance of a mic completely going out for a song but never for the leads. OK, we're off to a good start. Speaking of the band, Music Director Brandon Peck keeps the whole place rockin' quite well with his awesome band and never overpowers the actors, another problem they've had in that tight yet cavernous space.

Review: Seattle Musical Theatre's Awesome AIDA is Their Strongest Suit!
Alyssa Maas (center) and the cast of
Seattle Musical Theatre's production of
Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida.
Photo credit: Michael Brunk

But without a lot of the frills, this will come down to the cast and they kill it, and I don't just mean the leads. This incredible ensemble is ever-present filling in the vocals and keeping the action moving along and some even have their own moments to shine. Timothy Glynn as Radames scheming father Zoser is wonderful as the fly in Pharaoh's ointment and handled the aforementioned mic loss with absolute grace. DeSean Halley as Mereb, Aida's childhood friend, blew me away with his vocals. And Bethanie Willis as Nehebka, a fellow slave, took her few solos and nailed them.

But I said this comes down to the leads so let's discuss them. From the first moment of the play, when Maas steps forward and opened her mouth, I knew we were in for something great. She's got the attitude but never keeping her one-note as her arc is just as big as the lovers in this story. She rocked "My Strongest Suit" and tore our hearts out with "I Know the Truth". We all need to keep an eye on her. Lang brings in the swagger for the dominating Captain but loses it quite quickly when he meet the force of nature, Aida. And his voice sounds amazing throughout. But then there's Ross. I shouldn't be surprised by her incredible voice considering she's worked at the 5th Avenue, Village Theatre, and, oh yeah, on BROADWAY! Plus, she was on a little show called "American Idol". So, I shouldn't have been surprised but with her first song, I was taken aback how solid and crisp and clear her voice is and how she perfectly tackled every piece. Each one better than the last and I must say, her rendition of "The Gods Love Nubia" is worth the price of admission. She's a star!

So, did I like it? No. I loved it! And yes, I was a bit surprised as to how good it was but then with this level of talent, I shouldn't have been. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give Seattle Musical Theatre's production of Elton John and Tim Rice's "Aida" a "you better get your butts out to see their final weekend" YAY+. I know we all lead "Elaborate Lives", but catching this show is just "Written in the Stars". I'm sorry, did I go "A Step Too Far"? Nah, "Not Me".

Elton John and Tim Rice's "Aida" performs at Seattle Musical Theatre through February 24th. For tickets or information visit them online at

Vote Now for the 2022 BroadwayWorld Seattle Awards
voting ends in

SAMSON AND DELILAH to be Presented at Seattle Opera for the First Time Since 1965 Photo
For the first time since 1965, Seattle Opera will present Camille Saint-Saëns’ monumental Samson and Delilah (1877), an evocative retelling of the biblical tale of obsession, lust, and revenge.

Cast Announced For The 5th Avenue Theatres Educational Touring Companys NORTHWEST BOOKSHEL Photo
The 5th Avenue Theatre has announced casting for Northwest Bookshelf, this season's Educational Touring Company show, which will tour to schools and community centers across Washington state from February to May 2023.

Mike Marshall, Edgar Meyer, George Meyer, And Bryan Sutton To Perform Together At The Moor Photo
Seattle Theatre Group (STG) welcomes American music masters Mike Marshall, Edgar Meyer, George Meyer, and Bryan Sutton to collaborate onstage for a special performance on January 23, 2023, at the Moore Theatre.

Latest Standings Released For The 2022 BroadwayWorld Seattle Awards; Can Can Culinary Caba Photo
The latest standings as of Monday, December 5th, have been released for the 2022 BroadwayWorld Seattle Awards! Nominations were reader-submitted and now our readers get to vote for their favorites.

From This Author - Jay Irwin

         Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Jay has been a theater geek for years.  He attends as many shows as he can around the country and loves taking in new exciting... (read more about this author)

Review: THE FLIGHT BEFORE XMAS from Macha Theatre WorksReview: THE FLIGHT BEFORE XMAS from Macha Theatre Works
December 4, 2022

Dear Readers, we all know that travelling during the holidays can be a nightmare. Delayed flights, family drama, not to mention dealing with others attempting their own travels. But as frustrating as it can be, what’s not frustrating is the delightful cast of characters created by Maggie Lee in her play, “The Flight Before Xmas”. A wonderful and heartfelt diversion from the usual holiday fare currently playing at West of Lenin from Macha Theatre Works.

Review: MR. DICKENS AND HIS CAROL at The Seattle RepReview: MR. DICKENS AND HIS CAROL at The Seattle Rep
December 1, 2022

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is an enduring classic. We all know this. It’s never been out of publication since its first publishing in 1843. It has spawned numerous movie, TV, and stage adaptations from the serious to the Muppets. Now the Seattle Rep has come along with a World Premiere of Samantha Silva’s “Mr. Dickens and His Carol”, based on her book of the same name. Taking a supposed look at the creation of this classic tale, this historical fiction is heavy on the fiction and light on the history, cutting a wide swath with its poetic license about the author and turning him into a pompous buffoon in a story and a production in desperate need of an editor.

Review: THE WIZ at The 5th Avenue TheatreReview: THE WIZ at The 5th Avenue Theatre
November 28, 2022

L. Frank Baum’s classic fantasy “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is the gift that just keeps on giving. From its 1901 origins to the 1939 iconic film to any number of sequels, movies, and even a Broadway musical or two, we always seem to want to hear more and more about the magical land of Oz. And no small part of those tales is the fabulous William F. Brown and Charlie Smalls, Tony Award winning musical, “The Wiz” from 1974. And now the 5th Avenue Theatre has brought this green gem to vivid life with their current delightful production.

November 19, 2022

“Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” is an enduring classic for a reason. Sure, it’s family friendly and has a worldwide recognizable name, but in addition to it’s wonderful songs, it’s shown to be amazingly adaptable based on the production.

Review: NOT / OUR TOWN from Pony World TheatreReview: NOT / OUR TOWN from Pony World Theatre
November 12, 2022

Dear Readers, there’s an interesting an innovative new work based on an old classic playing in Capitol Hill with Pony World Theatre’s “Not / Our Town”. Even as I arrived at the theater, the pre-show activities the audience must partake in were filled with promise. Unfortunately, that promise quickly waned as this “NOT / Our Town” ended up mostly being “Our Town Highlights” mixed with one of my pet peeves, someone else’s therapy on stage.