The second coming of Aida, the new Disney musical, will begin previews at Chicago's Palace Theatre on Nov. 12. The show will play there until Jan. 9, 2000, after which it will move to New York's Palace Theatre on Feb. 23, for a March 23 opening.
The new Aida (version "2.0," as it were) will be 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. New is Adam Pascal (Rent) as Radames. Tony-winner Robert Falls is the piece's new director, taking over from Robert Jess Ross; and acclaimed set designer Bob Crowley has replaced Stanley A. Meyer. Also part of the new team is choreographer Wayne Cilento. Playwright Henry David Hwang has worked on the book of the show as a "creative consultant." Original bookwriter Linda Woolverton remains with the show.
Several of Crowley's stunning designs for Aida were revealed recently at a Disney presentation at the New Amsterdam Theatre intended to drum up group sales. Among the sets 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 Crowley's work on The Capeman.
The presentation also featured several of Cilento's dances and stars Pascal, Headley and Scott singing the songs "Written in the Stars," "My Strongest Suit," "A Step too Far" and "Easy as Life."
Falls is not known for his work with musicals, though he has directed several operas. He has made his reputation with grandly rethought stagings of classics such as Hamlet and Galileo, and was recently promoted to the front tier of American directors by winning a Tony for the Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman. Other credits include Horton Foote's The Young Man from Atlanta and Eric Bogosian's subUrbia. Headley came to industry attention playing Nala in The Lion King; Scott appeared in Broadway's Rent and in Kander & Ebb's new tuner Over & Over in Washington DC. Pascal is best-known as the original Roger in Rent.
Aida's debut at Atlanta's Alliance suffered mixed reviews and technical problems concerning its central set piece, a large pyramid. Following the play's Atlanta run, Disney dismissed much the creative team, including director Roth and set designer Meyer.
Disney's Beauty and the Beast left Broadway's Palace Theatre Sept. 5 to make room for Aida's arrival. Beast reopens Nov. 12, at the Lunt-Fontanne.
For tickets to Aida at Chicago's Palace Theater, call (312) 902 1500.