Spring musical ‘Aida’ packs McKinney’s auditorium

Amneris (Hannah Schwartz) and Pharoah (Michael Mayo) discuss punishment for Aida and Radames. (Dylan Lujano)

David Gutman

Microphone problems plagued the Saddleback College department of theater arts closing of the Spring semester Musical “Aida” last weekend.

“Aida” is the story of a forbidden romance between Egyptian captain Radames (Alex Walter) and his captured slave, the Nubian princess Aida (Jenna Slipp). The story includes many different elements, from being dark and dreary in situations, to comedic in some roles.

Mereb (Eric DeAnda) the young Nubian slave was the focal point for much of the comedy. DeAnda was a bright spot in an otherwise bleak drama-filled performance.

Saddleback theater arts instructor Dan Trevino, directed the contemporary musical and chose “Aida” for it’s relativity to present day.

“With the recent events in today’s Egypt, Aida is again a story for our time, as it is set against battlefields, warring countries, racial prejudice, and the search for freedom,” Trevino said.

“Aida” was first brought to the American stage circuit in 1998 before going to Broadway in 2000. Composer Elton John and Lyricist Tim Rice, have both led astonishing careers of their own before working together to make the contemporary musical “Aida.”

The audience packed into the auditorium like sardines, some students, some parents, and others were supporters of the arts in Mission Viejo.

“We’re seeing it because we just like musicals,” said Willy Costanza, a member of the audience.

The stage was altered for the show, allowing the actors to come to a platform that was quite nearly in the faces of the first row patrons. With Egyptian paintings to the sides of the main stage, the show spared no expense in terms of props and setting.

The costumes ranged from timely Egyptian outfits to more modern wear. Amneris (Hannah Schwartz) was dressed in what seemed to be a fashionable linen dress during her first musical number. Although it was quite unlike those seen in ancient times, the costume choice was appropriate to the character of a spoiled princess.

While the show was visually fantastic, with massive beautiful sets and gorgeous costumes, the show suffered in many technical ways. The actors weren’t trained to sing their voices out onto the audience, but instead into their convenient microphones. There were specific times where the mics seemed to be malfunctioning and the leads’ performance suffered.

During these moments of technical difficulties, the actor’s voice could only carry to the third row, while the chorus was heard throughout. Overall, the music was heard easily, but the diction of its lyrics was drowned out in the plethora of noise.

Technical problems aside, there were many things to like about this production of “Aida.” Michael Groover played the scheming Zozer. He and his backup dancers wowed the audience with their fantastic and complicated dancing, perfectly accentuating the character of a dark, evil man.

While the show had many things to improve on, Aida was a beautiful show, recalling the plight of love found and lost, but then found again in a different life.