The Greenbrier High School Pack Players will present Elton John's and Tim Rice's Tony Award-winning Aida, a contemporary take on an ancient tale of star-crossed lovers, this weekend in the school's auditorium.
The play opens at 7 p.m. Thursday and will continue Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., with a Saturday matinee at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $5.
Aida features a rock 'n' roll-powered Disney soundtrack composed by John and Rice, who also were responsible for theatrical and Broadway renditions of The Lion King.
But the tale does not forget its classical operatic roots, said Stephen Hansen, the director of the school's drama department.
"It's a mixture of Romeo and Juliet meets Hamlet, where not only do the lovers die but a lot of other people die in the end," Hansen said.
"It's kind of like melodrama as people realize what true love is all about, following your heart instead of your political aims," Hansen said. "There's a lot of social issues as well as emotional issues."
Originally written as an opera by Giuseppe Verdi in the 1870s, Aida is set in ancient Egypt. It is the story of Nubian Princess Aida, who is taken captive by Radames, a captain of Egypt who is in line to become pharaoh after his marriage to the princess of Egypt. But Radames and Aida fall in love.
Ultimately, Radames and Aida are condemned to die because he professes his love for her and helps her free her father, the Nubian king.
Unlike their treatment of musicals set in modern times, the Pack Players had to make more than 80 Egyptian-style costumes, Hansen said. The play also features elaborate sets and a live rock band, he said.
"The music is very challenging, but that's what makes it fun," said senior Andrea Collins, who plays Aida, her first lead role.
Rebekah Bearden, a junior who plays Amneris, the princess of Egypt, said the score helps translate the classical theme of the musical to a contemporary audience.
Hansen, who called Aida a "monstrous" technical undertaking, said his school is one of the first in the state to tackle the play, which just recently left Broadway and became available to perform this year.
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