ELTON JOHN and TIM RICE'S AIDA
Springers at the Civic Theatre Chelmsford
Verdi rewritten for the millennium by John and Rice. Embraced by Broadway, but still unseen in the West End, while Giuseppe's original still packs the Albert Hall.
Like Billy Elliott and Lion King, it relies on an existing success. But here the new version adds little, bringing only bathos and banality to the “timeless love story”.
A splendid start to Springers' ambitious staging, with 1920s ladies in cloche hats wandering amongst museum vitrines, including the life-size statue of Amneris, who steps out of her glass case to start the story.
Gary Jarvis's production is at its best in the set pieces, like the Nile laundry, or the witty spa number with its elegant fashion parade, or the torches for the patriotic Act One finale.
The chorus – Egyptian guards and Nubian slaves, all women – is effectively used and strikingly costumed. Ian Myers leads his singers confidently through the various genres – gospel, reggae and the rest.
Amyserin Leslie is a funny, forceful Amneris, Kieran Young a nicely characterized slave boy. In the title role, Lex Phillips makes an excellent advocate for Elton's pop ballad tunes; her youthful, ripped Rameses is done with some style and a strong vocal presence by Ben Wilton.