SELMA – As Selma High drama students prepare for their upcoming musical, “Aida” they’re realizing that even centuries ago and on faraway continents, love is a complicated. It can be especially tricky when it comes to deciding whether to follow your heart or live up to family obligations.
That’s the predicament in which the main character Aida finds herself in the musical which starts Thursday, March 15, at the Selma Arts Center. The show starts at 7 p.m. March 15 through March 17 and at 3 p.m. March 18. Tickets will be sold at the door and are $8 for students, children and seniors and $10 for adults. Selma High math teacher Kate Nieves is the director.
Senior Aliyah Garcia has the role of Aida whom she describes as the no-nonsense princess of Nubia.
“She’s really strong hearted about her country and about being an actual leader instead of falling in love. She’d rather take charge for her country than fall in love with [Radames],” Garcia said.
“Aida,” based on Giuseppe Verdi’s opera, has music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice and was originally produced by Walt Disney Theatrical. It played on Broadway from 2000 until 2004 and earned four Tony Awards.
In the musical, Aida’s country of Nubia is invaded by neighboring Egyptians. Captain Radames seizes a group of Nubian women and doesn’t recognize Aida as royalty as she gets swept up with the captives. Aida becomes a slave to Egyptian Princess Amneris who happens to be betrothed to Radames.
When another slave recognizes Aida, he reveals her identity to the other captives. They beg her to lead them to freedom and so she must decide whether to give in to her burgeoning feelings for Radames or step up for her enslaved people.
“It’s surprising and a big shocker to me,” Garcia said of her character since Radames is already betrothed. “He’s supposed to be getting married to Egypt’s princess, but he falls in love with somebody he captured to be a handmaiden.”
Anna Armstrong plays the character of Amneris and says the princess develops drastically through the production.
“When the audience first sees her, she’s very shallow. She uses the fact that she’s a princess to compensate for the fact she doesn’t have a lot of depth,” Armstrong said. “By the end of the show, we start seeing her heart come out and what kind of a person she truly is. She’s very strong and faces a lot of tribulations, but at the end of the day, she’s still there to rule Egypt.”
Armstrong describes the musical as a timeless story and hopes the audience is touched by the messages in the music.
“I’d like the audience to walk away with their heart filled. You see sacrifices being made for people that they love and that they place family above all. There are all types of different relationships in this show. You see just how extensive love really is.”
Joey Zamora has the role of Radames and said he enjoys being able to sing to express more emotion in this role. Zamora’s also involved in choir and folklorico dancing at Selma High and said each discipline allows for different artistic expression.
Through dance, I can express my culture. It’s something I’ve learned to love. As I started doing it more and more, I realized I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.
“[Folklorico dancing] takes a lot of practice, but seeing everyone smile and be happy makes us feel really good for all the practice we put into it. Even if [people in the audience] had a bad day, it lightens their day.”
Zamora said the theme of the musical is reflected in the very first song of the show that “every story is a love story.” He hopes the audience realizes there’s also truth in the musical for modern times.
“We’re all human; we might fall in love with someone even though we’re with someone else. It’s not a good thing, but it’s like the rainbow after the storm. We all make mistakes so it’s just a human thing to make a mistake.”
Chloe Mendoza has the role of Amneris’ mother and is a Pharaoh. Mendoza hasn’t been involved with productions since her younger days with the Cool Kids Productions when she played an apple tree in the “Wizard of Oz.”
“That taught me a lot about theater,” Mendoza said of the confidence-building experience. “It also taught me to talk with people, to not be afraid and go on stage and be able to talk in front of big groups.”
Mendoza’s golden outfit and headdress is just one of the colorful costumes that add to the exotic feel of the musical.
“I looked online to find the perfect outfit to make. I’m supposed to be very regal and elegant and this is my favorite color so I was able to incorporate it.”
Amiannah Martinez plays Amonasro, the Queen of Nubia. She has to push herself to play the demanding character as her personality is more cheerful and friendly, she said. “I’m like the mother of the group but character puts her foot down and doesn’t take it from anyone. I like that I get to go out of my comfort zone to do this character.”
Martinez encourages residents to watch the musical as audience members will likely be rooting for every character.
“It’s like an Egyptian ‘Romeo and Juliet’. It touches your heart because you don’t know who to side with. Throughout the musical, Aida is debating whether she should follow her family and be the queen of the Nubians, or follow her heart and go with Radames. I think people will really enjoy watching it unfold.”