February 24th, 2014 By PENELOPE BASS | Arts & Books | Posted In: Theater

Just Opened: Aida

A review of Stumptown Stages' production of the Elton John-Tim Rice musical.

aida -2Joann Coleman - Photo by John Rudoff
Originally optioned by Disney from a children’s storybook—which was itself based on the Verdi opera of the same name—Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida retains all the depth of an animated feature, with the erotic undercurrent of a Danielle Steel novel. Sure, the slave girl may actually be a Nubian princess, but you can still take her roughly in your palace bedchamber. Stumptown Stages’ adaptation embraces the campiness, yet it's more humorous than was likely intended.

In the titular role, Joann Coleman nearly channels Oprah Winfrey, with all the fierce enthusiasm of an enslaved princess giving away free cars. Her captor and lover, an Egyptian soldier named Radames (James Langston Drake), isn’t exactly bored, but he doesn’t seem passionate enough to commit treason, and there’s an overall lack of chemistry between the star-crossed lovers.

Some of the best performances—and voices—are found in the supporting roles, including Joy Martin as Princess Amneris, a shallow blonde who (surprise!) ultimately learns about her own self worth, and Antonio Tillman as the effeminate houseboy Mereb. John’s original score is well-performed by a small orchestra, and there are a couple of standout songs like the tragic ballad “Written in the Stars” and the goosebump-inducing ensemble number “The Gods Love Nubia.” Even though we know how it’s all going to end, it still makes for an enjoyable Disneyland ride.

GO: Aida is at the Brunish Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 381-8686. 7:30 pm Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 pm Saturdays-Sundays through March 9. $25-$40. Tickets here.
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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