VSMT stages Tony Award-winner ‘Aida’

Clarissa Gabriel

The first time I saw “Aida” was for my 11th birthday.

It was my first Broadway musical, and somewhere in the midst of the singing and psychological angst, I fell asleep.

My father’s $150 birthday present wasn’t exactly stimulating, even on the mainstream scale.

Seeing the Egyptian scroll flyers around campus was enough to get me out on a Thursday night for opening night of VSMT’s spring production of “Aida.”

This performance outdid its predecessor.

The two leading ladies Anu Jayakrishnan (Aida) and Carly Robinson (Amneris) were able to fully captivate the audience vocally, as well as emotionally.

Jayakrishnan seemed to easily fit in her role as a strong-willed captivated princess, while Robinson was not only the necessary comedic undertone but was someone with whom the audience could sympathize.

Both sold each one of Elton John and Tim Rice’s catchy and remarkable songs.

However, this love-triangle would cease to exist without the male counterpart, Ramades, played by Chris Irving. His talent as an actor and ability as a vocalist was the glue that connected the two worlds of Nubia and Egypt.

He possessed the human condition necessary to show a torn star-crossed lover.

Jayakrishnan and Irving’s stage chemistry was thoroughly believable, almost to the point that one wondered if it were really a Disney musical.

Both Joe Hawkins (Zoser), playing the villain with somewhat-good intentions, and Joe Aguila (Mereb), playing the dutiful Nubian slave, were successful in fully becoming their roles.

My only qualm is that Zoser did not seem much older than his son, but he still provided a strong villain. The ensemble did an amazing job being so many different believable characters.

Behind the scenes, the director, Matthew Decker, as well as all involved, did a stunning job creating an Egyptian world in such a small auditorium in St. Mary’s Hall.

It can be said that VSMT’s $5 performance in many ways succeeded Broadway’s more expensive ticket.

The acting, charisma and vocal abilities of both the Broadway and Villanova productions showed true talent.

But when it comes to which was more entertaining, I like to think it was the latter.