May 3, 2005 > Aida at American High
Aida at American High
by Heidi Leung
American High's rendition of the Broadway hit made me realize that Aida is a musical that is always welcome and never tiring. The music gets better as it becomes more familiar. American High has such a huge pool of talented vocalists that the play cannot be a disappointment.
Nicole Sun (Amernis) began with a bang as she breezed through "Every Story Is A Love Story". Her vocal range easily transitioned from soothing to strong and powerful just as the song demands. Then Tim Saenz (Radames) came out decked in bright red from head to toe singing the most masculine song of the piece, "Fortune Favors the Brave". His acting immediately revealed the true gentleness underneath a harsh exterior. However, how could one not immediately melt when the lead singer/actress is April Labson (Aida)? When she sang, "The Past is Another Land," and "Easy as Life" sounded more beautiful than ever. Her vocals were simply amazing. There's no note this girl couldn't hit. Even with a malfunctioning microphone, her voice would not be denied. There was never a hint of strain when the song became demanding.
Jason Pak made a hilarious Mereb. He was a delightful character that lit up the stage and provided generous support of the leading characters. Though his role wasn't too large, his acting made him memorable. Jheril Rivera as Zoser made me laugh because of his lack of expression although most people might find it strange that an evil and conniving character is so goofy, I found his robotic maniacal laughter amusing, as did the rest of the audience.
Dance sequences had a lot of flare, reminiscent of an early Michael Jackson. The cast performed them with such great energy and enthusiasm, I wanted to get up on stage and join in. The backstage crew also did a decent job of set design. I especially liked the way they made use of one prop by painting all four sides and rotating it to change the background. I also really liked the metallic mini-dresses worn by the Egyptian women in the dressing room when Amneris is singing "My Strongest Suit". It gave the costumes a jazzy flare. However, I was a little disappointed with Amneris' costumes aside from the red outfit worn at the end that complimented Nicole Sun very well. The other costumes were unresearched and too modern.
Overall, American High did not disappoint. The actors and actresses did a great job, dominating Elton John's songs. They sang with so much emotion that, at times, I teared up. This group of performers is worth watching and their voices are more than a match for song and lyrics. American High School's Aida is a worthy compliment to Broadway's successful show.
American High School's Aida will continue to run on May 5, 6, 7 at 7:00 p.m. For information and tickets: (510) 796-1776 ext 57750.