Mark A. Philbrick
Darick J. Pead and Lita Little Giddins star in Hale's "Aida."
"AIDA," Hale Center Theater Orem, 225 W. 400 North, now through Nov. 22; 801-226-8600; running time 2 1/2 hours with one 15-minute intermission.

OREM — Hale Center Theater does a royal job of producing the show "Aida."

The singing is skillfully done.

The costumes are lush and colorful.

The set is artistically pleasing to the eye and the acting is well disciplined.

It's really a treat, musically and visually.

It's also quite funny in a light-hearted tone akin to "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."

The soldiers/Egyptian guards who also play Nubian tribesmen are right out of a Matrix movie and the beach babes in the rendition of "My Strongest Suit" are dressed in plastic swim caps, modern shades and modest fur swim dresses.

There's a great sense of tongue-in-cheekness throughout as this tragic love story is told.

Greg Hansen (of the Tuesday-Wednesday-Saturday cast) is outstanding as Radames. He's convincing and open about his attraction to the Nubian slave, Aida. He also draws a sympathetic character out of what can be a cardboard soldier.

Korianne Orton-Johnson is outstanding as Amneris (she trades the role with Nikki Bohne). Her vocals are flawless and she's funny as the shallow princess.

Jared Young, single cast as the Nubian house slave Mereb, is also excellent as is Lita Little Giddina, who played Aida on opening night.

Cory Reed Stephens steals the scene, though, in a bit part with Amneris. As he mimics her movements in the "My Strongest Suit" song, he is captivating.

Director Dave Tinney has obviously done a good job with this cast. The pacing is tight and the delivery of lines is dead on (despite a glitch or two by the pharaoh on opening night).

The choreography in this small space is remarkably done. There are lots of bodies on a stage not meant for this size of production but the west set of seats have been moved out and the floor space expanded a few inches so it can work.

The production numbers are nothing but fun. Everyone takes it pseudo seriously.

The actors put heart into the music and the Elton John songs add energy.

In fact, the whole show is a seamless couple of hours of entertainment. Kudos to the cast and production team for taking this on.


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