Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria Academy took Elton John and Tim Rice’s hit show Aida to H. David Bowes auditorium from February 8-11. Despite being given just over month to prepare, more than 70 cast members from both schools came together as one to display the wide array of gifts and talents each and every one of them possesses. The show was an enormous success and will be one that no one will surely forget.
As the curtains unveiled the stage, the story begins in the Egyptian wing of a modern museum. Two individuals are oddly drawn to each other. A statue of the ancient pharaoh, Amneris (Valeria Camacho ’18), comes to life and transports the audience back to ancient Egypt. Radames (Alex Welz ’18), an Egyptian army captain, and his crew are shown sweeping through Nubia, with whom Egypt is at war. He takes many prisoners but is captivated by one in particular. She reveals that her name is Aida (Hannah Harvey ’19) as she is captured.
Mereb (Howie Lang ’18), Radames’ longtime Nubian servant, immediately recognizes Aida as the Nubian princess. She urges him not to reveal her identity as the Egyptians would surely kill her. Mereb takes Aida to Amneris, Radames’ betrothed, where she will work as a handmaiden. Amneris has an instant connection with Aida as well. Chief Minister Zoser (Elijah Lyons ’19), Radames’ father, secretly reveals that he is poisoning the pharaoh slowly to accelerate his son’s rise to the throne. Radames and Aida slowly fall in love with each other throughout the show, but both are faced with dual realities. Aida must choose between saving her people, or being with the one that she loves while Radames must choose between succeeding the throne or his burning passion for Aida.
Upon hearing the news that his men have captured the Nubian king, Radames is ecstatic. Aida, still forbidden to admit that she is the princess, is heartbroken as her father is now a prisoner and may be killed. Aida is now determined more than ever to save not only her people, but her father as well. She tells Radames that they can never be together as they confess their love and depart. Amneris overhears their conversation and is deeply saddened. Mereb has a plan to free Aida’s father, using the commotion of Radames and Amneris’ wedding to return him back to Nubia. After hearing from his spies that Radames may be distracted by Aida, Zoser orders his guards to kill her. When the guards come looking for Aida, another Nubian woman named Nehebka (Mary McGovern ’18) claims she is Aida, and sacrifices herself for her princess.
During the wedding, alarms are sounded as it is found that the Nubian king, Amanasro (Nick Carneval ’18) has escaped. Radames runs into Aida at the pier and is shocked to find that she is the Nubian princess. Zoser cannot believe Aida is still alive and kills Mereb, who was defending the princess. Zoser commands Radames to recapture the king, but instead he unties the rope and allows to boat to float away with Amonasro in it.
Radames and Aida are found guilty of treason and the pharaoh (Ian Malesiewski ’18) orders them to be buried alive. Amneris persuades her father that the two should be allowed to die together in the same tomb, an act of mercy as she has come to love both. While dying in the tomb, Radames promises Aida that he will find her again, even if he has to search for 100 lifetimes to do so. The scene quickly transitions back to the modern day museum where a man and woman strangely find the tomb familiar. They (Welz and Harvey) see each other and slowly meet center stage as the curtain falls.
“Going into Aida, I didn’t know a lot about the show, but I found it to be fantastic and honestly forgot that there were high school students on stage.” said Prep senior John Hagerty.
But it wasn’t just Prep and Villa students who were in attendance. Mercyhurst University freshman, Ryan Smerker said, “The singing was out of this world. Me and my friends went home and actually bought the soundtrack.”
Penn State Behrend freshman Emily Stankiewicz said she heard about the show via advertising on PSB’s radio station, WPSE. Lastly, Gannon freshman, Kayla Depalma had nothing but more positive things to say. “The portrayal of all the characters in Aida were authentically and beautifully done, making for a very touching show.”
Congratulations to director Father Mike DeMartinis on another wonderful show and also thanks to assistant director Amy Boxer, vocal director Andrew Alesso, musical director Will Steadman, and choreographer Eden Ihrig. This show would not have been possible without their constant commitment and passion for this theater program.