Valencia College Theater

If you want to avoid your cranky old uncle, head up river and spend a few years conquering the next culture over. The old guy might die, you might make a useful conquest, but mostly you’re out of the loop on palace intrigue and away from the tabloids. That’s the angle Radames (Torres) works, and it’s been good to him. He’s conquered a full five cataracts; that’s how the Egypt kept score back then. He’s also captured the royal family of Nubia, and he plans to convert them all to slavery. But warrior princes Aida (Torres) steal his heart, and even though he’s a big jerk who keeps her as a slave, he’s given her light duty and a chance to marry up, if they can dodge his already betrothed Valley Girl Amneris (Mizrahi). Naturally there’s tension. When Rademes’ dad the Pharaoh (John Moughan) forces him to marry her already, he knows that’s the end of his fun warrior days. And since this show was based on an opera, it’s time to crop some bodies.

There are songs I like here: “My strongest Suit”, “Elaborate Lives,” and “Every Story Is a Love Story” all impressed me, but I honestly can’t hum them as I write this. I can hear snatches of Elton John in the music, but it’s never as compelling as his hits. The acting works much better than the music, Hayward’s Aida seems the earnest revolutionary fighting for her country while her brother Mereb is the sneaky fixer who knows how to keep a secret. Radames feels torn between Aida and Amneris, and between having fun conquering vs. the responsibility of ruling a country. Sure, you get a pyramid and eternal life with the Gods, but there’s lots of paper work and there’s always a revolt somewhere that needs slapping down. Take this as a cautionary tale about following your dreams, and just be glad you aren’t the personal representative of heaven.

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