Presented by Toyota Broadway in Indianapolis at the Murat, Aida's cast of two dozen and a nine-member orchestra, aided by a stage crew equally worthy of the standing ovation, proved you can indeed tell an old story with a new ending. While Aida and Radames star as "star-crossed lovers' it's the jilted Amneris who towers through inner growth.
Lisa Brescia delivers one heck of a package, going from the self-centered brat who finds personal definition only through the finery she wears to the self-assured queen who understands the nuances of mercy, justice and, yes, love.
Paulette Ivory's comedic timing crowns vocal and acting virtuosity. Self-assured, astute and reckless, her Aida is a dynamic embodiment of dignity and compassion.
Jeremy Kushnier is achingly believable as Radames, an adventurer-warrior whose conquests seem more compelling than sitting on a throne alongside the queen. Betrothed to Amneris, he falls in love with Aida. Does he have a choice? For a guy with everything, he's in a lose-lose situation.
Mickey Dolenz as Zoser is a father from hell. His "you do what I tell you to do" directly counters Aida's "you are the master of your fate."
The heaviness of the story is balanced with some pretty funny lines sprinkled throughout, yet it is Eric L. Christian as Mereb who supplies the wise fool to sublime moments.
With choreography by Wayne Cilento and stage direction by Robert Falls, this production of the Tony-winning Aida is everything we want in worthy entertainment.