The second regional stand of Disney's Aida continues to take shape. As previously reported, Chicago is the town and the Palace is the theatre. Now, dates have been put forth. The Elton John-Tim Rice musical will play an eight-week run in the Windy City, Nov. 5, 1999 to Jan. 2, 2000, according to an Equity casting notice.
Heather Headley -- who was in last fall's Atlanta incarnation of Aida -- will head the cast of the pre-Broadway engagement, repeating her performance in the title role. The casting notice also noted that the other two leading roles of Radames and Amneris have been cast without mentioning which actors had been selected. Rent vet Adam Pascal, however, may be a candidate for Radames. A spokesperson at Paradigm, which reps Pascal, said the actor-singer had been offered the role. Sherie Scott played Amneris in Atlanta. It could not be learned whether she would play the part again in Chicago, but her appearance on the recently released Aida album would seem to indicate her continued involvement. Scott is currently starring in Kander & Ebb's Over & Over at VA's Signature Theatre.
Aida had a rocky debut at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre Oct. 7, 1998, suffering mixed reviews and technical problems concerning its central set piece, a large pyramid. Following the play's Atlanta run, Disney dismissed the creative team, which included director Robert Jess Roth and set designer Stanley A. Meyer, replacing them with Robert Falls and Bob Crowley, respectively, as well as choreographer Wayne Cilento.
Both Roth and Meyer were veterans of the Beauty and the Beast . With the hiring of Falls and Crowley -- both highly respected artists -- Disney seems to be moving away from the family spectacle of Beauty in favor of the more successful, high-art formula of Julie Taymor's The Lion King. Falls is a somewhat odd choice for the job, since he is not known for his work with musicals. Rather, he has made his reputation with grandly rethought stagings of classics such as Hamlet , Galileo , The Iceman Cometh , and the recent Death of a Salesman, which is due in New York this spring. Recently, he has mounted productions of new works, such as Horton Foote's The Young Man from Atlanta and Eric Bogosian's subUrbia.
Crowley, meanwhile, has been highly praised for the work in the musical theatre, which includes the designs for Carousel and The Capeman. Cilento is best known for his choreography of Tommy.
No cast for the production has been mentioned, though the inclusion of the Atlanta leads, Heather Headley and Sherie Scott, on the Aida album would seem to indicate their continued involvement.
The show's score, an all-star album, titled "Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida," will find its place in record stores Mar. 23 on Rocket/Island Records.
Among the pop stars who have recorded the musical's 14 numbers are Sting, James Taylor, the Spice Girls, Tina Turner, Janet Jackson, LeAnn Rimes and John himself. John and Rimes performed the Aida song "Written in the Stars" Jan. 10 on "The 25th Annual People's Choice Awards." The duet appears on the album and will be released as a single in the coming weeks.
The track listing for "Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida" is as follows:
"Another Pyramid," Sting
"How I Know You," James Taylor
"Written in the Stars," Elton John and LeAnn Rimes
"Enchantment Passing Through," Dru Hill
"My Strongest Suit," Spice Girls
"Easy as Life," Tina Turner
"I Know the Truth," Elton John and Janet Jackson
"Amneris' Letter," Shania Twain
"Like Father Like Son," Lenny Kravitz
"Not Me," Boyz II Men
"Elaborate Lives," Elton John
"A Step too Far," Elton John, Heather Headley and Sherie Scott
"The Gods Love Nubia," Kelly Price
"The Messenger," Elton John and Lulu
* In other Disney news, Thomas Schumacher was recently promoted to the post of president of Walt Disney Feature Animation and Walt Disney Theatrical Productions. Along with new Disney Studios president Peter Schneider, Schumacher oversaw the development of the phenomenally successful The Lion King.
Schumacher and Schneider will continue to work together on Aida and other stage projects as co-presidents of Disney Theatricals.