Rights to Elton John rock musical bought for Meltham woman

A COUPLE who bought the rights to Broadway hit Aida are bringing it to Honley.

And it will be the first time an amateur production of the Elton John and Tim Rice Broadway classic has been staged in the UK.

And it’s thanks to Craig Ball, who bought the rights to stage the work – based on Verdi’s opera – for his wife Ellen’s 30th birthday.

Ellen has long loved the story and music and wanted to stage it, but the rights have only just become available.

Craig snapped them up and Aida will be staged by Hand Picked Productions at the Southgate Theatre in Honley in June – making it the show’s UK debut.

But first they need to find a cast and thespians can find out more this Friday.

Ellen, of Meltham, said: “It’s my favourite show. I’ve always loved the show Aida, the music and everything about it.

“We’ve never been able to go and see it on Broadway but I’ve listened to the soundtrack and seen clips and just love it.

“Until recently it’s only been available on Broadway, it hasn’t been in this country before. There was talk of somebody picking it up professionally which never happened so it’s become available for amateur societies.

“For my 30th birthday Craig bought the rights to stage it so that’s what we’re doing.”

It will be a major accomplishment and while Ellen would love to play Aida, they’re inviting talented actors to audition to be involved in its UK debut.

Craig, a music and performing arts teacher in Bradford, and Ellen, who is training to be a doctor, have three children, Evelyn, six, William, four, and Teddy, three.

Craig is musical director for Huddersfield Light Opera and involved in various local music societies.

Ellen is at home on stage and has performed with the Huddersfield Thespians and Woodhouse Operatic, but took a break from the stage while she had children.

But she’s ready to be back centre stage if needed for the show, with Kathy Peters choreographing it.

Aida premiered on Broadway in 2000, and ran for 1,852 performances until it closed in 2004 before touring the US.

It has been staged internationally – the first was in the Netherlands with shows also in Germany, Japan, South Korea and Mexico, and it has been performed into 14 languages.

But it has never been staged professionally in the UK – the home country of its composer and lyricist – and was released for amateur licensing last year.

The Elton John and Tim Rice version has a rock and pop score and tells the story of Aida, the daughter of Amonasro and Princess of Nubia. With her royalty unknown to all except Mereb, who recognises her as princess, she is taken into slavery with the rest of Nubia, but attracts the attention of Radames.

The show will run from June 18-23 at Southgate Theatre, Honley and cast members will get training.

But Hand Picked Productions will launch Aida this Friday, at Trinity Church, Honley, from 7.30pm. Go along or email: