When Heather Headley won her 2000 Tony Award for her performance of the title role in the Disney musical Aida, she said "Thank you Disney. I'll work for you forever." Well, forever ends Sept. 9, when the strong-lunged Broadway star leaves the Elton John-Tim Rice show after a year-and-a-half-long stay. Her part will be assumed by Maya Days on Sept. 11.
Headley was plucked from the supporting cast of Broadway's The Lion King to play the title role in Aida—only Disney's third Broadway musical and its first not based on an existing animated movie. Headley played Simba's love interest, Nala, in the former show, singing "Shadowland" every evening.
Robert Falls directed Aida, which began life in Altanta, and was then retooled in Chicago before bowing at New York's Palace Theatre. The show received mixed notices, but most critics agreed that the vibrant Headley was the best thing in the production. When Tony time came, she beat out such veterans as Marin Mazzie of Ragtime. (Ironically, Headley had understudied and performed the role of Sarah in Ragtime prior to joining The Lion King).
Pop star Taylor Dayne concluded her Broadway bow on Sept. 8, when she left the cast of the Broadway musical Aida. The one-time FM power ballad queen began her stay as the story's Egyptian queen Amneris on Feb. 27, becoming the first to follow original Amneris, Sherie Rene Scott, into the role. The slinky, blonde-tressed Dayne dominated the pop charts in the late '80s and early '90s with such power ballads as "Tell It to My Heart," "Don't Rush Me," "Prove Your Love" and "I'll Be Your Shelter." By the mid-'90s, however, she had all but disappeared from view.
Disney has, in the past, cast pop stars in its Broadway musicals, Toni Braxton's tenure in Beauty and the Beast being the most notable example. Both Scott and Pascal have carried on double careers as actors and recording artists.
Idina Menzel and Adam Pascal weren't a couple in Rent (he was the straight Roger and she the proud bisexual Maureen), but they're going to give romance a shot in Broadway's Aida. Menzel will take over the role of clothes horse queen Amneris on Sept. 11 in the Elton John-Tim Rice piece, slipping into the character's headdress after Dayne departs on Sept. 8. Adam Pascal remains with the show, playing royal hunk and Amneris' love interest, Radames.
The cast changes will leave Pascal as the only one of the three original leads still with the production.
Menzel's and Days' tenure will be relatively short, however. Beginning in January 2002, Simone will step into the role of Aida, and Felicia Finley will become the new Amneris. Simone is currently playing the title role on the road.
Since Rent, Menzel has belted her way through parts in Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party and the Off-Broadway bound Summer of '42, as well as playing assorted gigs at Joe's Pub in lower Manhattan.