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Review: AIDA Glows at Glow Lyric Theatre

Review: AIDA Glows at Glow Lyric Theatre

Tony winning musical by Elton John & Tim Rice runs through July 30

When you see that Glow Lyric Theatre is producing AIDA, you'd be forgiven for envisioning the Verdi opera. After all, the company started out, ten years ago, as Greenville Light Opera Works. And, in fact, next week they premiere a brand new opera, STINNEY.

But Glow also embraces musical theatre, having mounted engaging productions of such classics as MY FAIR LADY, HAIR, and IN THE HEIGHTS. And this AIDA is not an opera, it is a Broadway musical based on the opera.

With music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, AIDA tells the story of an enslaved Nubian princess, Aida (L'Oréal Roaché), and her Egyptian captor, Radames (Jason Rodriguez). A captain in Pharoah's army, Radames is engaged to the Pharaoh's fashion-conscious daughter, Amneris (DeAna Earl). Ultimately, Aida and Radames fall in love, until the capture of Aida's father, the Nubian King, leads to complications that not even love can easily resolve.

Glow's production, directed by Justin Hall, takes place on the somewhat shallow stage of the Fred Collins Performing Arts Theater at Greenville's Kroc Center. With the band visible at all times, performing live from the back of the stage, that means even less room for actors, set pieces, and spectacle. So Hall and the creative team put together a minimalist production, reliant on a few boxes and a hand full of props. The beauty of this approach is that lights, costumes, and the voices of the performers take precedence. This stripped-down AIDA literally glows with life. And honestly, this kind of show is catnip for me - I love actors manipulating a rippling blue cloth to create a running stream. In fact, cloth and fabric become a key component of the production, which perfectly reflects the characters and setting of the show.

One of the standout numbers highlights this creativity. "My Strongest Suit" features DeAna Earl as Amneris, belting out a hilarious number all about her love of clothing, as servants do some wonderful cape work around her. But it's not just Justin Hall's colorful costume design and numerous fluttering capes that sell the number - it's the pure talent of DeAna Earl. She's simply perfect as Amneris, both shallow and cunning, with an absolutely gorgeous voice. And watch her fantastically precise hand movements throughout the show.

The other two leads, L'Oréal Roaché as Aida and Jason Rodriguez as Radames, also demonstrate superior vocal work, along with nice emotional range, especially on display in their beautiful duet, "Elaborate Lives." Roaché's Aida is strong and defiant, contrasting nicely with Rodriguez's starry-eyed Radames.

The rest of the ensemble, including the charismatic Wesley Hodges as Mereb, is just as good, with several numbers actually inducing chills, particularly the act one closer, "The Gods Love Nubia."

Act two then opens with a literal highlight - a striking silhouette of Aida, Radames, and Amneris. Apart from the spare set, including Set Designer DJ Pike's textured backdrop, almost 100% of the production's feel and atmosphere rely on Lighting Designer Tony Penna, and he nails it. AIDA is a visual delight as well as a vocal feast.

Kudos to director Hall as well as Music Director Chase McAbee and Choreographer Jenise Cook for bringing AIDA to life.

Glow Lyric Theatre's production of AIDA runs July 15, 16, 23, 29 & 30 at 7:00pm and July 17 & 23 at 2:00pm at The Kroc Center, Fred Collins Performing Arts Theater, 424 Westfield Street in Greenville, SC.

Run time is 2 1/2 hours, including the 15 minute intermission. And the theater has great air conditioning, so consider bringing a sweater if you're so inclined.

For tickets visit®id=99& or call 864-558-GLOW.

From This Author - Neil Shurley

Neil Shurley has been covering the Greenville SC arts scene since 2001. A member of the American Theatre Critics Association, his theatre-related work has appeared in such publications as The Greenville... (read more about this author)

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