AIDA in Manila Review

On November 13, 1999,  I visited my college barkada Meli and Anna, who showed me around Chicago. We watched the Limited Pre-Broadway Engagement of AIDA at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. That’s where I was first bitten by the Broadway musical bug.

The musical premiered on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on March 23, 2000. In the 2000 Tony Awards, it won Best Original Musical Score (Elton John, Tim Rice), Best Actress in a Musical (Heather Headley), Best Scenic Design, and Best Lighting Design.

Finally, after 11+ years, Aida makes its debut in Manila.

The staging of Aida marks the homecoming of Ima Castro of Miss Saigon fame (she replaced Lea as Kim when her contract ended). She plays the lead role of Aida, who’s originally portrayed by a black woman.

It was a pleasure seeing Ima in last night’s press preview performance. We were delighted to hear a fresh voice on Manila’s theatrical stage. Nevertheless, she can learn a thing or two from Rachel Alejandro on how to connect with and involve the Filipino audience.

Rachel Alejandro set the comic tone of the show with her performance of “My Strongest Suit” (see the video: “My Strongest Suit” from AIDA on Broadway). I love Rachel as an actress because she embodies her roles with ease and fun. It was great seeing her perform side by side with her father, Hajji Alejandro.

Although the set and costumes were not that impressive and representative of Egyptian royalty, the Manila production’s musicality, dance sequences and lighting effects were awesome. 🙂 I loved the local dance version of “Another Pyramid” (see video: “Another Pyramid”) and “Dance of the Robe” (see video: “Dance of the Body” ).

You have to watch the most popular song in this Broadway play — “Written in the Stars” (see video: Elton John – Written In The Stars ft. LeAnn Rimes) performed by Aida (played by Ima Castro) and Radames (played by Myke Salomon). I feel that the romantic connection between Ima and Myke can still be improved, though, so that they can engage the audience in their love story.

This is the ultimate chick flick-ish Broadway show that lovers should watch together. My wife really loved it because of Radames (I think 🙂 )… My favorite line from the musical:

If I have to search for a hundred lifetimes, I will find you again, Aida.” – Radames

For me, it was a nostalgic moment — seeing this Broadway show finally staged in Manila and being able to watch and enjoy it with my wife.

This is the timeless love story that surpasses the tragic ending of Romeo and Juliet. It is a must-watch for all lovers and romantics out there. To Ima CastroMyke Salomon, Rachel Alejandro, and the production staff, thank you for bringing AIDA to life in Manila!

Elton John & Tim Rice’s AIDA
AIDA is a musical bursting with contemporary energy chronicling the love triangle between Aida, a Nubian princess stolen from her country, Amneris, an Egyptian princess, and Radames, the soldier they both love. AIDA is an epic tale of love, loyalty and betrayal.
Check out the complete Aida Synopsis
Date: June 24 to July 10, 2011 
Time: Friday 8pm, Saturday 2pm, 8pm, Sunday 3pm 
Website: Atlantis Productions
Official TwitterAida of Manila


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Full Disclosure: We watched the by-invite-only press preview of Aida last night.

P.S. AIDA will premiere tonight at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza in Makati. Don’t miss it!

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