By Robert Simonson
27 Mar 2001
The national tour of Disney's new musical, Aida, will begin at Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre March 27 for a run through April 22. The production will then stop in St. Louis, Seattle, Portland, OR, and Denver. Just announced are the three leads for the Elton John-Tim Rice tuner: Simone [sic] plays the titular slave, Patrick Cassidy is her captor and lover, and Kelli Fournier is his royal girlfriend, Amneris.
Both Fournier and Simone have appeared in the Broadway Aida, according to a production spokesperson, while Cassidy most recently starred opposite Cheryl Ladd in the current Annie Get Your Gun revival. (Reba McEntire and Brent Barrett took over Jan. 26).
Disney may consider the Orpheum a lucky theatre for the company. The Lion King made a successful pre-Broadway stop there in 1997 before going on to triumph in New York.
As with the New York edition, the tour will be directed by Robert Falls, with Wayne Cilento doing choreography, and sets and costumes by Bob Crowley.
The tour schedule runs as follows:
• March 27-April 22, 2001: Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre
• April 27-May 6: St. Louis' Fox Theatre
• May 12-27: Seattle's Paramount Theatre
• May 29-June 3: Portland, OR's Keller Auditorium
• June 6-24: Denver's Buell Theatre.
Other cities recently announced for the Aida tour are Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Buffalo, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Hartford, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, Raleigh, Rochester, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Tampa, Tempe, Tucson, Tulsa and Washington, D.C.
Disney's Buena Vista Theatrical Group is producing the tour.
After tryouts in Atlanta and Chicago, Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida opened on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on March 23, 2000. The NYC production features Adam Pascal, Heather Headley and Sherie Rene Scott and was nominated for five Tony Awards, including a nod for Headley, who won.
Taylor Dayne, the 1980s pop diva, will be the new Amneris in the Broadway Aida starting Feb. 27. She will replace the departing Scott, who has been with the show since it debuted at Broadway's Palace and before that in Atlanta and Chicago. Scott's last performance will be Feb. 25. Original stars Pascal and Headley remain with the musical.
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.
Disney Theatrical Production's The Lion King will soon join Beauty and the Beast and Aida on the road. Beast has been touring the U.S. for six years, and some of the details of the upcoming Aida national tour were recently announced. The Lion King is expected to visit Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, St. Louis and Tampa.