Atlanta has seen it. Chicago has seen it. Now, beginning Feb. 25, New York will see Aida, the new Disney musical by Elton John and Tim Rice. The show begins previews on that date at Broadway's Palace. March 23 will mark opening night.
The musical concluded a two-month stint at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre Jan. 9. As in the Windy City, the musical stars Heather Headley, in the title role, as well as Adam Pascal and Sherie Rene Scott. Robert Falls directs, Wayne Cilento is choreographer and Bob Crowley provided the scenic designs.
The book credit has been revised with the New York bow; director Falls and playwright David Henry Hwang now share credit with original book writer Linda Woolverton. Hwang was hired as a "creative consultant" shortly after the ill-fated, initial Atlanta production of the musical.
Furthermore, a few changes have been made to the score since Chicago. According to Newsday, Pascal has a new song, "Fortune Favors the Brave," and "Elaborate Lives," previously sung by Headley, has been reassigned to Pascal. The intention in these alterations is to further humanize the character of Radames.
The show marks Falls's first work in New York after winning the 1999 Tony Award for directing Death of a Salesman. Falls made his initial reputation in Chicago, first as artistic director of the now defunct Wisdom Bridge Theatre, then as head of the Goodman Theatre. Among his landmark Second City productions have been a grandly rethought Hamlet and Galileo -- the latter being the first of a string of collaborations with actor Brian Dennehy that led to the Tony-winning Broadway revival of Salesman. Aida represents Falls' first musical in long memory, though he has directed many operas. Completing the 25-member cast of Aida are Tyrees Allen, Robert Armitage, Troy Allan Burgess, Franne Calma, Bob Gaynor, John Hickok, Kisha Howard, Tim Hunter, Youn Kim, Kyra Little, Kenya Unique Massey, Corrine McFadden, Phineas Newborn, Daniel Oreskes, Damian Perkins, Jody Ripplinger, Raymond Rodriguez, Eric Sciotto, Samual Thiam, Jerald Vincent, Schele Williams and Natalia Zisa.
The new Aida is vastly different from the production which opened at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre Oct. 7, 1998. Of that show's stars, only Heather Headley, as Aida, and Sherie Rene Scott, as Amneris, remain. Newly added in Chicago was Adam Pascal (Rent) as Radames. Tony winner Robert Falls took over as director in Chicago, replacing Robert Jess Ross; and acclaimed set designer Bob Crowley supplanted Stanley A. Meyer. Also part of the new Chicago team was choreographer Wayne Cilento.
Among Crowley's sets for the show are a backdrop for Aida's native Nubia, in which the work "Nubia" is spelled out in letters several feet high, and a perspective-twisting backdrop of a David Hockney-like swimming pool, reminiscent of the designer's work on The Capeman.
The musical features the songs "Written in the Stars," "My Strongest Suit," "A Step too Far" and "Easy as Life."
Disney's Beauty and the Beast left Broadway's Palace Theatre Sept. 5 to make room for Aida's arrival. Beast reopened Nov. 12, at the Lunt-Fontanne.
Tickets for Aida range $25-$80. For information, call (212) 307 4747.