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. “Cataracts;” that’s how the Egyptians 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 (Heywood) steal his heart, and even though he’s a big jerk who keeps her as a slave, he’s given her light duty and the chance to marry up, if not for his already betrothed valley girl Amneris (Mizrahi). Naturally there’s tension, and when his dad the Pharaoh (John Moughan) to marry her already, he knows that’s the end of his fun warrior days. And since this show was based on an opera, now its body dropping time.

There are songs I like here, “My Strongest Suit”, “Elaborate lives,” “Every Story is a Love Story”, 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, Haywood’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. And Radames feels torn between Aida and Amneris, and between having fun conquering, vs the responsibility of becoming the Big Guy. Sure, you get a statue and eternal life with the Gods, but there’s lots of paper work and there’s always a revolt somewhere that needs slapping down. What we have here is the sad story of growing up and growing old, and getting stuck in a high-pressure job you hate.

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