Review: 'Aida' at The Muny

Erin Karll

  • OnStage St. Louis Critic

First I would like to say that I was not at the August 9th performance where the show was interrupted by protesters. I have the luck of missing wild nights at the theatre by one day. I missed Shia LaBouf’s fun time at “Cabaret” by one night, and now this. Mike Issacson (artistic director and executive producer) came out to say farewell to this season. He immediately addressed the events of the previous night, thanking the staff, cast, and crew for doing their jobs and making sure everyone was safe. I am not going to turn this review into a political editorial, so I will just say I am happy the demonstration ended peacefully and the show was able to finish. Now on with the review!

Closing out the 98th season of the Muny was “Aida”, the wonderful musical written by Elton John and Tim Rice. Set in ancient Egypt the story follows Radames (Zak Resnick) a captain in the Pharaoh’s (Lara Teeter) army. He is set to marry Pharaoh’s daughter Amneris (Taylor Louderman), as arranged by his father Zoser (Patrick Cassidy). He meets a Nubian woman named Aida (Michelle Williams, yes that Michelle Williams) and his world is changed. The topics of slavery, destiny, and being true to your self are all carefully told.

I have never seen this show, so I was excited for a new story and I was not disappointed. The fantastic cast was led by Resnick, Williams, and Louderman. Resnick plays the torn and lonely Radames with care and depth. Williams impressed me with her acting ability. I knew she had a top notch voice, but I was on the edge of my seat listening to her storytelling. Louderman shows her range being able to lead to audience from laughter to grief as the show progresses.  Standouts also include Cassidy for his rock star voice, Wonza Johnson (Mereb) for his hilarious and charming take on the character, and Muny vet Ken Page (Amonasro) who returned and commanded the stage. All of the cast voices and movements are so powerful.

There is thrilling choreography by Jon Rua on a beautiful stage by scenic designer Tim Macabee.  Matt Lenz (director) holds it all together. I was ecstatic to see the turn table used to its full potential. Simple set pieces made scene changes easy and keep the audience in the moment. Special notice to the sound team of John Shivers and David Patridge, I have never heard the Muny sound so good. Clear voices and powerful music (Andrew Graham Musical Director) make the show flow and a joy to follow. The costumes (Robin L McGee) were spectacular. I enjoyed Amneris’ stunning dresses throughout the show, truly her ‘strongest suit’. The ensemble members also looked great wither the palace guards, Nubian slaves, or dream dancers.

Overall this is a production I would recommend seeing. You can check out ticket and show information and Aida runs until August 14 and closes the muny season. Check out the website also for off season concerts and the party to announce next season’s shows.