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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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“Aida” Shines on New Hale Center Theatre Stage

Doug Carterr
Impressive dancing and aerial tricks in Hale Center Theatre’s production of “Aida”

Supported by a new venue and power-filled stage, the newly constructed Hale Centre Theatre pulls off Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Aida” with phenomenal talent and success.

“Aida” is a musical based on an Italian opera of the same name by Giuseppe Verdi. The music is by John with lyrics by Rice and the book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls and David Henry Hwang. It premiered on Broadway in 2000 and won four Tony Awards and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. It is known for its wrenching love story between a captive Nubian princess and Egyptian captain and the forbidden love they share. In typical Elton and Rice fashion (the same duo who brought you “The Lion King”) excellent music surrounds wit, a substantial storyline and complex and evolving characters.

Hale Centre Theatre chose this dynamic show to help open their new venue in Sandy. The musical featured talent from local Utahns and contained every shred of talent and finesse that Hale Centre Theatre has been known for throughout the years.

Raven Flowers is iconic as Aida. She embodies the goddess-like persona that the Princess of Nubia should possess. Her voice is beautifully dynamic with power as well as quiet subtlety. Flowers is a part of the M/W/F cast, with Kandyce Marie playing the same role on T/Th/S.

[/media-credit] Raven Flowers (Aida) and Zack Wilson (Radames) in Hale Center Theatre’s production of “Aida”

Flowers’ fellow leading lady, Kelly Hennessey-Pulver as Princess Amneris is stunning. She completely personifies her character with bursting personality and a depth of compassion for the princesses’ ultimate fall. Hennessey-Pulver’s spunk and high set of vocals lends a spark of life and vibrancy to the low tones of the story. Amy Shreeve Keeler acts as Amneris on T/Th/S.

The two leading ladies undeniably steal the show with superb vocals. Completing their trio is Zack Wilson as Radames, the conflicted and deeply sympathetic Egyptian captain. Casey Elliott acts as Radames on T/Th/S. Wilson gains momentum as the show and his character progresses. With a particularly moving performance in “Elaborate Lives,” Wilson dons the strong and passionate woes of Radames with talent and an athletic appearance.

Greg Hansen as Zoser and Christopher Curlett as Mereb are brilliant appendages to the integral dynamics and provide entertainment and talent within their character roles. Jared Haddock is Zoser on T/Th/S.

Flowers shines brightest in solo reaches within “Easy as Life” and “Dance of the Robe,” however her duets with cast-mates Curlett and Wilson are also moving and beautiful. Wilson’s rendition of “Radames’ Letter” is deeply sweet and the three-part harmony within “A Step Too Far” is perfection.

Additionally, “Aida” features an incredibly strong ensemble. There truly was not a single weak link in the entire performance. Other highlights include aerial performers, a disco ball, a fantastic use of a stage length blanket turned cape and emotion fueled dancing from a talented ensemble — all of which is enhanced by the impressive Hale Centre Theatre stage.

[/media-credit] The cast of “Aida” at Hale Center Theatre

The stage also features unconventional projected graphics upon screens directly behind the top row. However, it did potentially create an atmosphere that was at times too stark and potentially too technical.

The stage presents a colosseum type feel and an elevated view of the classic center stage is not only recognizable as a Hale Center characteristic, but deeply appreciated as the full ambiance of the stage is never limited, despite seating on all sides. Each side or curtain allows for ample and generous viewing and presents a win-win situation for all in attendance.

The technologically-advanced stage features a center column lift, four quad lifts, two large crescent lifts and two slip stages each independently controlled. Overhead, the technology continues with two crane trolleys which can lift or lower up to 16 independent performance pieces, traveling the span of the theater.

The $80 million building began construction in Sept. 2015 and opened officially in Nov. of this year. The theater features two stages: the 900-seat Centre Stage and the 467-seat Jewel Box Stage. The debut 2017-2018 season will host 10 productions including The Wizard of Oz, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Music Man.

With Sally Dietlein as producer, Dave Tinney as director, Jennifer Hill Barlow as the choreographer and Kelly DeHaan as music director, “Aida” is arguably the best performance to have graced the stage of the iconic Hale Centre Theatre.

Over 70 performances will occur within the Nov. 17, 2017- Jan. 20, 2018 run of “Aida.” Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with additional 12:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. matinees on Saturdays. No children under the age of five are permitted in the theater. For additional information regarding tickets to “Aida” as well as future shows at Hale Center Theatre, visit or visit the HCT box office at 9900 South Monroe Street in Sandy City. Tickets are $39 for adults and $18 for youth.

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    Shanea FulksNov 27, 2017 at 5:04 pm