Pupils to rock Bay audiences with modern ‘Aida’

THEODOR Herzl High School promises to wow Port Elizabeth audiences with the rock musical production of Aida next week.

Giuseppe Verdi’s Italian opera by the same name, which was adapted into a children’s storybook was the inspiration for the contemporary rock musical that first premiered on Broadway in 2000.

Aida, a two-act musical, depicts a love story which transcends time and death.

The play begins in the Egyptian wing of a modern museum, with a man and a woman touring the exhibit being transported to ancient Egypt.

A love triangle unfolds between the female Pharaoh Amneris (played by Bianca Bosch), her betrothed Radames (played by Gino Lee) and the Nubian slave Aida (played by Sarah Morton).

Port Elizabeth stage personality Robin Williams, the school’s dramatic arts department head, directs the production. It will be the first time the Elton John and Tim Rice creation plays on a Mandela Bay stage.

“The audience will be amazed after they have seen Aida. The level of performance from the cast of high school pupils is equal to the performances from people who have gone seriously into drama studies,” Williams said.

Williams said auditions were held during the fourth term of last year and once the 30 cast members were chosen, they spent their December holidays receiving vocal training under the musical direction of Lynn Thomson.

Thomson said she was “blown away” by the range of the pupils’ voices and their commitment to putting on a production of this kind. “The cast all work so well together. In the end it gives me a feeling of fulfillment,” Thomson said.

“During the six weeks of training during the December holidays and the seven weeks since school started, the pupils’ voices kept changing and improving. They are at the top of their ability.

“I was gobsmacked at their growth. Hearing them sing is a goosebumps moment for me,” she said.

The production was choreographed by Vivienne von Memerty.

Both Von Memerty and Williams were full of praise for the school and its pupils.

“There is a culture of nurturing in the arts and culture at Theodor Herzl. Many of the cast members are not accomplished dancers and I had to learn to modify but I fed off of the young adults’ energy. Their energy is amazing,” Von Memerty said. “It is pure magic,” Williams said. Lee, cast in the role of Radames, and who is no stranger to performing, said theatre was an invigorating experience for him.

“I am a singer and can play the keyboard but to be on stage with a cast was a completely different experience. It was amazing to interact with people around me who built me up and in the process I built myself up,” Lee said.

Morton plays Lee’s star-crossed lover Aida.

“This is my first big role, which is both scary and thrilling. “It comes with a lot of responsibility but I believe this [the stage] is the perfect place for me as it incorporates everything I love,” Morton said.

The show, which opens on Monday evening, would appeal to everyone, Williams believes.

“It is a stirring tale filled with comedy, drama and romance and added to that, rock music. “It is a great piece. We are being swept away … once people see the beauty of the show, so will they,” Williams said. Aida is at Theodor Herzl High School, 14th Avenue in Walmer from Monday March 4 daily until next Sunday March 10 at 7.30pm; there is no evening show on Friday March 8. There are 3pm matinees on Friday and Sunday. Tickets are R80 and are available from the school on

(041) 581-4244.

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