Aida, the new Disney musical, will open at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre on Dec. 9, after nearly a month of previews beginning Nov. 12. The Elton John-Tim Rice musical, which intends to hit Broadway in spring 2000, stars Heather Headley, Adam Pascal and Sherie Rene Scott. Robert Falls directs, Wayne Cilento is choreographer and Bob Crowley provided the scenic designs.
Falls, not known for his work with musicals, 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 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.
* This Elton John-Tim Rice stage version of the Aida tale has been plagued by set problems. An earlier incarnation debuting at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in 1998 suffered repeated glitches with its pyramid set piece. The sets for the revamped Chicago-Broadway production are by noted set designer Bob Crowley (Carousel, Twelfth Night).
The second coming of Aida will play in Chicago 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 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 reopens Nov. 12, at the Lunt-Fontanne.
For tickets to Aida at Chicago's Palace Theater, call (312) 902 1500.