Friday, February 24, 2012

REVIEW: 'Aida' at Manatee Players features star performance by lead

Candace Delancy makes a striking debut in the title role of the Manatee Players’ production of “Aida.”

The 24-year-old Miller Elementary school teacher originally from Titusville acts with aplomb and sings with more emotion than typically heard in a Broadway musical.

From start to finish, she exudes star power.

Similarly, director/choreographer Rick Kerby and crew do an outstanding job using smart lighting, projections and a revolving stage to offer a visually appealing presentation of the show dubbed “elaborate sets” when it premiered in 1998.

Alas, I didn’t leave the Riverfront Theatre in downtown Bradenton particularly entertained when “Aida” opened Thursday.

For starters, the story about a Nubian princess (Delancy) who is captured by an Egyptian military captain named Radames (William Masuck) and then falls in love with him hits levels of unintentional silliness and predictability that border on insulting — even by Disney standards. (The show was originally going to be a cartoon).

It took three people hired by the entertainment titan to write the book based on the Giuseppe Verdi opera and there’s not a single memorable line or clever plot twist.

The greatest offense, though, is how the would-be tragic ending is rendered ridiculous.

As for sonics, the six-piece band does its best to lift Elton John’s music but the Rocket Man’s melodies are much more akin to his banal 1980s ballads than the classics he composed during the previous decade.

Likewise, lyricist Tim Rice doesn’t come close to his “Jesus Christ Superstar”/“Evita”/“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” halcyon days.

The cast does its best to breathe life into the boring tale of forbidden love in ancient Egypt.

Trina Rizzo, a gifted actor and serviceable singer, generates the show’s only real laughs as Amneris, Radames’ fabulously fashionable fiancée who happens to be the daughter of the Pharaoh (Rodd Dyer) and the warrior’s key to the throne.

Masuck displays a decent singing voice but I never believed that his character would throw everything away for Aida. Then again, the story is such that perhaps no actor alive could pull off such a feat.

Delancy will grab your attention.

But I can’t say the same about the overall show.

Photo: Candace Delancy as Aida and William E. Masuck as Radames in "Aida." TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE —

Read more here:

If you go
What: “Aida”
When: Through March 11; 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays
Where: Manatee Players Riverfront Theatre, 102 Old Main St., Bradenton
Tickets: $25/$11 students
Information: 941-748-5875 or

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