Aida, the new Disney musical, will close out its two-month stint at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre Jan. 9. The show, which was significantly revamped after its initial Atlanta incarnation, opened on Dec. 9, after nearly a month of previews beginning Nov. 12. The Elton John Tim Rice musical stars Heather Headley, who was acclaimed in reviews, as well as Adam Pascal and Sherie Rene Scott. Robert Falls directs, Wayne Cilento is choreographer and Bob Crowley provided the scenic designs.
Falls made his 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 Death of a Salesman. Other credits include Horton Foote's The Young Man from Atlanta and Eric Bogosian's subUrbia.
The Broadway run is on schedule, previews beginning at the Palace Theatre Feb. 25 for a March 23 opening.
* Aida suffered a mishap on Nov. 13 when a stage accident halted weekend performances and resulted in minor injuries for two of the show's stars.
Aida had just begun a pre-Broadway run when, in front of a stunned Chicago audience, a problem with the set during the show's final moments felled stars Headley and Pascal. According to an eyewitness report, while the two actors were being conveyed in a suspended boxlike "tomb" at the climax of the show, the set piece broke from its support and plunged approximately 8 feet to the stage. A Nov. 14 press release from the show's publicist stated that Headley and Pascal sustained minor injuries and were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for examination. Both were released from the hospital a few hours later. The two Sunday Nov. 14 performances were subsequently canceled.
Headley and Pascal returned to the show on Nov. 18.
The elevated tomb set piece has since been eliminated from the show.
An earlier incarnation debuting at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in 1998 also suffered glitches, in the earlier case with its pyramid set piece. The sets for the revamped Chicago-Broadway production are by noted set designer Bob Crowley (Carousel, Twelfth Night).
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. 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."
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.