Student Theater Review

In 'Aida,' South Lakes Meets a Musical Challenge

Marshall Severin, right, plays the Egyptian captain Radames in South Lakes High School's production of
Marshall Severin, right, plays the Egyptian captain Radames in South Lakes High School's production of "Aida." (Photos By Rich Lipski -- The Washington Post)
Thursday, May 25, 2006

Elton John and Tim Rice's adaptation of "Aida" tells the tragic love story of a young Egyptian captain, Radames, and a slave, Aida. South Lakes High School brought this tale of ill-fated love to life in an outstanding performance of this Tony Award-winning musical.

The story begins as Radames's soldiers capture Aida and her maids, not knowing that she is the princess of Nubia, the country with which Egypt is at war. Despite his imminent marriage to Amneris, the princess of Egypt, Radames falls in love and begins a passionate affair with Aida.

Whitney Gross played Aida with grace and skill, clearly expressing the conflicting emotions of a woman choosing between her country and the man she loves. As Radames, Marshall Severin created a strong but compassionate character, loaded with charisma. Gross's strong alto and Severin's clear tenor complemented each other, making duets such as "Elaborate Lives" and "Written in the Stars" highlights. Both performers had great stage presence, and the chemistry between them carried the show.

They shared the stage well, though. Morgan Briggs played the fashion-loving princess Amneris with ease, humorously capturing her ditsy moments but creating a multifaceted character. Her personality radiated, whether she was singing about fashion or a broken heart. William Kelly, as Radames's conniving father, created a memorable, well-developed character. In "Like Father, Like Son," sung by Severin and Kelly, the tension and resentment were palpable.

The orchestra had barely an out-of-tune moment. Spotlights were used effectively, and lighting was generally well done. Sound was close to flawless, though the body microphones occasionally picked up excess noise.

The ensemble was weak in volume and energy in some songs, but every member was consistently in character and generally brought vigor to the larger dance numbers.

"Aida" is a timeless love story. One might not expect a high school to capture the depth of emotion and tragedy in the story, but with strong acting, singing and technical expertise, South Lakes High School presented a first-rate performance.

Cara Dickason

Thomas Jefferson High School

Mix love, strife, tragedy and pyramids, and you have Elton John and Tim Rice's timeless adaptation of "Aida." South Lakes High School's production showed what high school theater should be.

"Aida" is a vibrant rendition of Giuseppe Verdi's opera of the same name. This captivating musical recounts the tale of the enslaved Nubian princess Aida and the betrothed Egyptian Radames during a time of war between their nations. "Aida" uses archetypal themes to create a new, unique and enchanting show.

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