Disney has hired a new creative team for its latest musical Elaborate Lives: The Legend of Aida. Robert Falls, artistic director of Chicago's Goodman Theatre, has been selected to stage a new rendition of the Elton John-Tim Rice tuner. Joining him will be set designer Bob Crowley and choreographer Wayne Cilento.
Elaborate Lives opened at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre on Oct. 7 to mixed reviews and technical problems concerning its central set piece, a large pyramid. A few times, the pyramid malfunctioned, forcing the musical to be completed in concert fashion. Following the play's Atlanta run, Disney dismissed the creative team, which included director Robert Jess Roth and set designer Stanley A. Meyer.
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 theme park 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, though he took some critical lumps for staging the poorly received Dream. According to reports, Falls and company will begin work on Aida sometime this spring. The show will most likely have a tryout in Chicago and land on Broadway in late 1999 or early 2000.
African princess, Aida, and her doomed love for the captain of the Egyptian guard, Radames, who is in turn desired by Aida's royal mistress, Amneris.