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), isnât exactly bored, but he doesnât seem passionate enough to commit treason, and thereâs an overall lack of chemistry between the star-crossed lovers.
Some of the best performancesâand voicesâare 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. Johnâs original score is well-performed by a small orchestra, and there are a couple of standout songs like the tragic ballad âWritten in the Starsâ and the goosebump-inducing ensemble number âThe Gods Love Nubia.â Even though we know how itâs all going to end, it still makes for an enjoyable Disneyland ride.