Aida is Here
This school year Frank Sinatra’s musical theater teachers, Mr. Cacciaola Price and Ms. Best decided to produce the musical Aida. The musical revolves around an enslaved Nubian princess’ (Aida) forbidden love, for Radames, an Egyptian soldier who is betrothed to the Pharaoh’s daughter.
Auditions for the musical were held towards the end of the 2015 school year and proved to be a lengthy process. Auditions included singing, acting and dancing. First the students would have to sing an assigned song to the role they were auditioning for, if they got a call back they then would have to do the dancing portion of the audition, which consisted of a variety of combinations they had to do on the spot. Finally, they would have to act certain scenes and then sing another song, however, some of the students had to sing duets rather than solos.
The production consists of two casts, the orange and blue casts with shows beginning on Thurs. March 17 and continuing through the weekend until Saturday, March 19.
“For my audition piece I had to sing “Easy as Life.” This song is about how Aida is struggling between being with the one she loves or protecting and helping her people. For my callback I did a duet with Adam Marchetta who now plays Radames in my cast,” Courtney Long, who plays Aida for the Orange Cast, said.
Aida required a lot of dedication from the students performers. Rehearsals for the show began in September of 2015 combind with a 43 minute musical theater class within their school schedule.
“Rehearsal began probably a month into the school year. It started with Mr. Cacciaola Price (CP) calling certain principal characters for rehearsals that lasted about an hour. Then in November and December we started to do Saturday rehearsals that would last from 10a.m-6p.m. The rehearsals would be alternative casts, but because I’m in both casts I went every Saturday, ensemble also did the same,” Alphonso Bonds, who plays the character Mereb, stated.
You can only imagine how difficult it can be for high school students to handle the responsibilities and all the work that comes with being part of a musical. Students have to be able to sing, dance, and act and devote all of their time into making the musical fantastic. Some of the students from the play commented on how difficult it was for them to get into character:
“At first it was very difficult to get into character because I didn’t know anything about acting. CP had to teach us the fundamentals of acting in order for us to be in character. Now I know that every time I go on stage I am no longer Courtney Long. I am Aida,” Courtney said.
With all the stress and commitment from the musical, the students were asked the obvious, did they ever regret auditioning for the musical?
One might think that some of the students would have some regrets, having to handle school and the musical and their outside life all at the same time, but the students questions all said they regretted nothing about auditioning.
“I never regretted committing to the musical, but I found this to be my most challenging one yet so there were definitely stressful times but it made the product something to be proud of,” Giancarlo Pinzon said.
Along with not regretting being a part of Aida he said his favorite part about being in the production is that he constantly has to prove his abilities to make this distant character come to life and be understood.
“Radames to me was a very confusing character because he’s so internally conflicted that it is hard to portray a character when the words don’t back how he truly feels, and considering the dialect of how ancient Egyptians spoke it was definitely hard to resonate with, but slowly I got to understand him and realize how strong a character he is,” Giancarlo said.
Compared to last year’s musical production Rent, Aida seems to contain more costumes and makeup.
“In every musical we have to wear makeup, but this is the first time that I’ve put on eye liner. It was the funniest moment about getting into character when seeing all of my masculine friends trying to be serious with eyeliner, blush and contour on their faces,” Alphonso said.
“I also believe it is agreed by the cast that our costumes are amazing, they help us feel more in character and because we like them we are compelled to work harder in them,” he added.
Not only are the makeup and costumes different but the music itself is different too.
“The grandness of this musical is something incomparable to other musicals,” Bruce Jimenez said.
Not only does Aida require dedication from the actors, but it also requires dedication from the pit band. Roughly 30-35 songs contain live music played by students in the pit band. The pit band consists of, 2 guitars, 2 violas, 2 violins, 2 cellos, 2 flutes, a bass player, a harp player, 2 pianists, and 3 percussionist.
Pit band was given their music around September and were expected to learn their parts and practice constantly. There were definitely difficulties the pit band dealt with.
“I guess the most difficult part is that you have to always be on your toes. With regular orchestra there’s a set tempo and we know what to expect, but when in a musical you have to follow the singers. We have to listen to how or slow or even how loud they are,” celloist Zeke McGhee said.
However Zeke stressed the importance that live music brings to a production like Aida.
“Live music really puts you in the mindset of the play. It draws you in and grabs your attention. A recording can’t show the emotion, or let you hear the true quality of the instrument,” he said.
Aida needed a lot of time and dedication from the students and teachers involved, but the product of these two needed things will most definitely be worth it. And the buzz has paid off, two of the shows were sold out before way in advance of opening night.
– by Jayda Molina ’16