THEATER | DANCE | CLASSICAL MUSIC | OPERA | COMEDY

NORTH TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS NEWS

REVIEWS

NO CAPTION

Review: Aida: Concert Version | Uptown Players | Dallas City Performance Hall


Pyramid Scheme

Uptown Players and Turtle Creek Chorale collaborate for a semi-staged concert version of the Elton John and Tim Rice musical Aida.



published Saturday, January 16, 2016

Photo: Mike Morgan
Kyle Ignezci, center, in the musical Aida presented by Uptown Players and Turtle Creek Chorale

 

Dallas — Big, eager crowds applauded the big numbers of the big cast of talented, energetic singers, dancers and musicians propelling a concert version of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, performed by Uptown Players and the Turtle Creek Chorale at Dallas City Performance Hall, a big, bright venue with good seats and downtown glamour. John’s piano-rock vibes fill the hall and sweep us up in the love triangle of an enslaved Nubian princess who falls in love with her handsome Egyptian captor, who is about to marry the pharaoh’s daughter.

Verdi it’s not, for those familiar with the Italian opera, but this pop Aida has its glittering moments and they shine in this production, directed and choreographed by Ann Nieman, with musical direction by Kevin Gunter, assisted by Sean Baugh, Turtle Creek Chorale’s artistic director. All deserve kudos for the swift and graceful movement of their nearly 100-member cast to enhance the emotional center of the story the songs tell us.

Photo: Mike Morgan
Feleceia Benton and Kyle Ignezci

The award-winning chorale and acting ensemble created a special synergy in previous collaborations with productions of Ragtime in 2013 and Sweeney Todd in 2014. They do it again with Aida, which kicks off Uptown Players’ 2016 season. This production follows the Disney production that opened on Broadway in 2000, with John’s narrative music, Tim Rice’s pop lyrics and a book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls and Henry Hwang.The concert version has minimal sets and conveys the place and time with terrific costumes by Suzi Cranford and some wonderfully evocative props by set designer Michelle Harvey, including colorful tents for a wedding and handsome flowing sails of Nubian ships storming the harbor. Such semi-staging is just enough to highlight the music in the show—and all the leads have strong voices and pack the dramatic power to keep us focused on the songs they sing.

Feleceia Benton is a forceful Aida, her mezzo voice throaty at the edges when she sings of her home in “The Past is Another Land.” Her Aida walks with deliberate, royal dignity, but she is also vulnerable, and her expressive arms and hands follow her voice, melodic and tender, as she sings of her love for her Egyptian soldier.

The Egyptian captain Radames is played by Kyle Igneczi, a compelling singer and actor, who got raves for his performance as a transgender rock singer in Uptown’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Igneczi’s Radames is a dashing adventurer, strutting his military prowess in “Fortune Favors the Brave.” Yet, his fateful love for Aida is evident in his eyes and voice in “Enchantment Passing Through.”

Most importantly, Benton and Igneczi‘s instant chemistry in the framing story, where they lock eyes in a modern museum looking at an Egyptian exhibition, sparks all their scenes. That physical attraction strengthens through the performance, shown by longing gestures and, to a powerful sexual desire—and love. Their duet of “Elaborate Lives” gives the somewhat trite lyrics a throbbing, romantic force.

Then there’s the third corner of the triangle—and the fun role in the show. Grace Neeley’s Amneris, the woman Radames is set to marry, is a feisty, funny, clothes-loving, insecure and hilarious mash-up of shallow California girl and spoiled Egyptian Princess. Her gorgeous mane of hair swats behind her, and her big, wide-ranging voice grows to pure excitement in “My Strongest Suit,” her ode to the joy of a wardrobe the size of a palace, and the delight in commanding a host of servants to dress her and accessorizes her for all occasions. Fashion rules and choreography energizes this bow to the woman for whom her outfit is herself.

Photo: Mike Morgan
Grace Neeley and Feleceia Benton

Amneris, who opens the show as the Museum figure come to life singing “Every Story is a Love Story”, is also the character with enough smarts and heart to assess the value of Aida when Radames gifts the captive girl to his bride-to-be. In a funny, touching scene, the two women bond while Aida brushes Amneris’ fabled hair.

As the swirling plot moves from love to royal intrigue, we meet Ramades’ father Zoser, played by Jonathan Bragg, a strong baritone with a villainous scowl and ambitious overtones, especially singing “Like Father, Like Son,” a song pulsing with male ego and further energized by a quartet of male dancers baring their six-pack abs.

Love stories and stories of power are surrounded by courtiers, and members of the Turtle Creek Chorale, dressed in casual black and seated on risers behind the action, join in on big numbers, raising the roof with their superb combined voices. “The Gods Love Nubia,” the finale to Act I, resonates in our ears as we move to the lobby for intermission.  They join in on other songs briefly, but I wished for more of this huge sound.

This is a Disney production, so as the old plot of Aida casts the doomed lovers to their death, the frame story here makes room for some equally fateful connection in the future. It’s hopeful, it’s short, and it’s, well, Disney. Actually, I’m good with all that in this lively, entertaining show. Thanks For Reading





Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
Pyramid Scheme
Uptown Players and Turtle Creek Chorale collaborate for a semi-staged concert version of the Elton John and Tim Rice musical Aida.
by Martha Heimberg

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre
Click or Swipe to close
reviews
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
audiocasts
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
contests
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
crowdfunding
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
studio
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web



Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:


Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:


TheaterJones Section:


Category:
Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Search
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  



Your Name:
Your Email Adress:


please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :
Submit