Aida set for Drury Lane Theatre - Chicago Theatre News
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Aida set for Drury Lane Theatre
Mar 3, 2011


AidaDrury Lane Theatre presents the Tony Award-winning international hit musical AIDA, Directed and Choreographed by Jeff Award winner Jim Corti (Sweet Charity, Meet Me in St. Louis, Cabaret, and Sugar.) Featuring a dynamic cast led by Stephanie Umoh as "Aida" ("Sarah" in the 2009 Broadway production of Ragtime) and Jared Zirilli as "Radames" (first National Tour of Wicked), AIDA previews March 17, opens March 24 and runs through May 29 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane.

AIDA is a stirring tale of conflicting loyalties and star-crossed lovers inspired by Giuseppe Verdi's 19th century Italian opera with the same name. The sensational pop-rock score by Elton John and Tim Rice (The Lion King) includes musical influences ranging from African to Middle Eastern to Indian. AIDA made its Broadway Premiere at the Palace Theatre in 2000, where it ran for 1,852 performances and has since been translated into 14 languages and seen around the world. The production won four Tony Awards in 2000, including Best Original Score, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album for Elton John and Tim Rice's AIDA: Original Broadway Cast Recording.

Egypt has enslaved Nubia and the great power's prince, Radames, is engaged to be married when Aida, the princess of Nubia, comes to the palace as a slave. Forbidden love blossoms between them and the young lovers are forced to face death or part forever. The couple's devotion ultimately transcends the vast cultural differences between their warring nations, heralding a time of peace and prosperity. This mesmerizing tale of the power of love and destiny features stunning choreography by Corti. Musical Director Ben Johnson breathes new life into a score complete with Motown, pop, reggae, gospel and tribal elements. The AIDA set is a brilliant combination of ancient and modern themes, including a massive plexiglass pyramid by New York City-based Set and Projections Designer Jim Dardenne (Radio City Music Hall, 25 world premiere productions.) Dardenne has created serene watercolor projections that evoke timeless images including lush Nile River scenery and breathtaking desert landscapes. Vibrant lighting by Jeff Award winner Jesse Klug transports audiences to the majestic world of ancient Egypt. Costume Designer Melissa Torchia puts a fashion-forward spin on historical pieces to create ethereal costumes and gorgeous natural stone and metal jewelry. The artistic team also includes Sean Kelly (Assistant Director), Monique Haley (Associate Choreographer), Tom Rapley (Associate Choreographer), Cecil Averett (Sound Designer), and Meredith Miller (Props Designer.)

AIDA stars Nicholas Foster as "Pharaoh" (Jeff Award Winner for Actor in a Principal Role-Musical or Revue for Parade, Sweet Charity at Drury Lane Theatre); James Earl Jones II as "Mereb" (Spamalot and Ragtime at Drury Lane Theatre); Donica Lynn as "Nehebka" (Once On This Island at Marriott Theatre); Darren Matthias as "Zoser" (Shakespeare Theatre Company); Erin Mosher as "Amneris" (first National Tour of 101 Dalmatians and Mamma Mia! in Las Vegas); Bruce Young as "Amonasro"; Stephanie Umoh as "Aida" (2009 Broadway production of Ragtime and Tin Pan Alley Rag at the Roundabout Theatre Company); and Jared Zirilli as "Radames" (first National Tour of Wicked, Equity Regional Premiere of Rent, Altar Boyz Premiere in Washington, D.C.) The production also features Melanie Brezill, Karen Burthwright, Stephane Duret, Michael Glazer, Monique Haley, Pia Hamilton, Pegah Kadkhodaian, Jarret Kelly, Adriana Parson, Todd Rhoades, Jaquez A. Sims, Brandon Springman, Eleho Temuru, Grant Thomas, Peter Vandivier, and Natalie Williams.

Jim Corti returns to Drury Lane Theatre after directing last season's Sugar and receiving Jeff nominations for Drury Lane Theatre's Cabaret and Oh Coward! at Writers' Theatre. He received a 2008 Jeff Award for directing Sweet Charity and a nomination for Meet Me in St. Louis the same year. He also received the Jeff Award for his choreography in Drury Lane Theatre's Singin' in the Rain and directed and choreographed The Full Monty, the inaugural production at Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place in 2005. For Victory Gardens, Corti directed Lonnie Carter's The Lost Boys of Sudan, Michael Smith's The Snow Queen at The Biograph, and Doug Post's God and Country at The Greenhouse. He has served productions at Steppenwolf, The Second City, Chicago Shakespeare, The Goodman, Marriott Theatre (Jeff Award for his role in Grand Hotel) and Northlight (Jeff Award for directing Blues in the Night). A veteran Broadway actor, he appeared in the New York casts of Ragtime, A Chorus Line and Candide and the national tours of Urinetown, Cabaret and Bob Fosse's Dancin'. At The American Theatre Company, he is choreographing The Original Grease with director PJ Paparelli and author Jim Jacobs. Corti is the newly appointed artistic director of The Paramount Theatre in Aurora, inaugurating its first Broadway subscription series this fall.


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