Alumni Theater Co. ends fifth season with ‘AIDA’

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LOVE—Radmes, played by James Perry, 14, and Aida, played by 15-year-old Elexa Hammer, in a scene where the Egyptian Captain falls in love with a Nubian princess.

 

 
For five years, Tyler Humphries-Randolph has been looking for a “character that she could settle into.”

The 16-year-old CAPA junior, East Liberty resident, and Alumni Theater Company member found that when the student-based company put on a stunning rendition of Elton John and Tim Rice’s “AIDA” as its swan song for its fifth season.

“AIDA” is a contemporary take on the everlasting love story between an enslaved Nubian princess and Egyptian army head. The two young lovers are forced to choose between living together in death or part forever. It premiered on Broadway in 2000 and ran for 1,852 performances, making it the 34th longest running Broadway musical. “AIDA” had several revivals running again from 2002 to 2003 and from 2006-2007. It has been performed in more than 20 countries and is still performed on the international, regional, and high school theater circuits.

 

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NUBIAN SLAVES—The rest of the Nubian slaves find out that Aida is the Nubian princess. (Photos by J.L. Martello)

 

In 2000, it was nominated for five Tony Awards and won four including Best Performance by a Leading Actress and Best Musical Score.

“I’ve grown tremendously as an actress through ‘AIDA’ and ATC,” said Humphries-Randolph who portrayed Princess Amneris in the production, which ran from July 26-28 at the New Hazlett Theater on Pittsburgh’s North Side. “The role made me become a stronger actress and I’m glad that people enjoyed it.”

Humphries-Randolph said all of the lead actors in the show—Aida played by Elexa Hanner and Radames played by James Perry and herself—had a sit-down at ATC Director Hallie Donner’s home to get the feel for the story and their perspective characters.

“Amneris is crazy and I thought I could pull that off—be happy one moment and upset the next moment-I had fun playing a role like that.

Amneris was young and naïve and it was a long journey she had to travel to learn to grow up. Her plan was to get stronger and the musical fit ATC well with all of our ages,” Humphries-Randolph said.

The entire cast spent hours discussing the story and how it was poignant to the mission of ATC and to understand the motivations behind each line and lyric of their character and how to deliver the message of their character to the audience.

 

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ATC’s mission is to create work that represents the perspective of young artists growing up in an urban environment. It provides quality performing arts for talented, committed youth in grades 6-12 in a highly creative, challenging and supportive setting. “AIDA” was the company’s 25 show, ending its fifth season. This was the first season ATC operated as a 501c3 non-profit organization.

“The heart of ‘AIDA’ is the struggle of a young generation,” explained Hallie Donner Alumni Theater Company Director. “The lead characters, Aida, Radames and Amneris are young heroes trying to do what they feel is right while still honoring the traditions and wishes of their elders.

They are not larger than life—they are very similar to ATC kids in many ways. They are exceptional but young. They are faced with decisions and responsibilities that are often too big for them to handle properly. They make mistakes and sometimes the consequences are grave. They are struggling,” Donner continued.

 

AN EXHIBIT—Amneris, an Egyptian princess played by 16-year-old Tyler Humphries-Randolph, during a scene where she is in the museum as part of an exhibit.

 

With the closing of  “AIDA,”the kids of Alumni Theater Company haven’t been sitting on their laurels. They started rehearsals for the I AM ARTIST showcase that will be performed October 18-19 at Lawrenceville’s Grey Box Theater.

 

 

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