A North American tour of Disney's Aida will launch in 2021, kicking off at Paper Mill Playhouse February 4–March 7. As previously reported, the staging will be directed by Schele Williams, who originated the ensemble role of Nehebka in the original Broadway production.
Since appearing in the musical, Williams has taken on a bigger role backstage, serving as associate director of several productions, including Motown: The Musical on Broadway, a European tour of Porgy & Bess, and the international tour of Rent.
“I have a rich history with the show that I am very proud of, but when I recently made some discoveries about the history of its time period, the show broke open for me,” she said in a statement. “It truly is the butterfly effect; subtle shifts have taken a story I love and turned it into an adventure I can’t wait for audiences to discover.”
The new production will feature an updated book by David Henry Hwang, who co-wrote the original script with Linda Woolverton and Robert Falls.
Following its run at New Jersey's Paper Mill (which also hosted the premiere of Disney's Newsies and recently presented productions of Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins), the tour will go on to play Charlotte, Chicago, Fort Worth, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., with more cities to be announced.
Elton John and Tim Rice penned the score for the musical, earning the pair a Tony and a Grammy for their work. The show opened at Palace Theatre in 2000, earning Heather Headley a Tony for the title role. Starring alongside her were Sherie Renee Scott as Amneris and Adam Pascal as Ramades.
Aida, based on Verdi's 1871 opera, follows Egyptian soldier Ramades, his lover Aida (a captured princess from abroad), and his fiancée Amneris (the Egyptian king’s daughter) as the three grapple with love, duty to country, and family.
The revival will also feature choreography by Camille A. Brown, sets and costumes by Bob Crowley, and lighting by Natasha Katz. On the music team are musical supervisor Jason Michael Webb, arranger Michael McElroy, orchestrator Jim Abbott, and dance arranger Zane Mark. Casting will be announced at a later date.
Aida remained on Broadway through 2004, featuring a slew of hit recording artists taking center stage, including Toni Braxton, Deborah Cox, and Michelle Williams. After the musical closed on Broadway, the musical was resurrected on tour and in regional productions, such as a 2016 run at Muny starring Williams, Taylor Louderman, and Zak Resnick.
In related Aida news, the original Verdi work is slated to open the Metropolitan Opera's 2020–2021 season this fall in a new production directed by Michael Mayer.