BROADWAY classic Aida is coming to Honley.
And the cast will be beating the drum to Aida’s tune – for the cast of a forthcoming production have learnt the art of African drumming especially for the show.
Local musician Craig Ball secured the rights to stage Aida for the first time ever in the UK, buying them as a present for the 30th birthday of his wife Ellen.
The Elton John and Tim Rice Broadway hit has never even been seen on the UK stage before, making the Honley play its premiere.
Now Ellen Ball, well-known on the local amateur dramatic scene, not only plays Aida, but she and the cast are all learning African drumming for a scene choreographed just for the Honley show.
It features in The Dance of the Robe scene which builds to a crescendo and which Ellen described as “incredible”.
She said: “I’ve never done anything like this before. I don’t actually have to do any drumming as Aida but I’ve learnt with everyone else.
“We were taught by Matt Delaney who works for Kirklees Music School but who taught us through his Beatroute company.
“It’s certainly harder than I thought, but everyone has taken to it amazingly and it’s for a scene which is just incredible, it builds up and I think everyone will love it.”
For Ellen being part of Aida was a life-long ambition, but she never imagined she’d be the first to play her in the UK.
The rights to stage Aida only recently become available and Craig snapped them up for Hand Picked Productions to perform at the Southgate Theatre in Honley in June.
Ellen, of Meltham, said: “It’s my favourite show. I’ve always loved the show Aida, the music and everything about 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.”
Craig, musical director for Huddersfield Light Opera Company, is involved in various local music societies while Ellen has performed with the Huddersfield Thespians and Woodhouse Operatic.
Kathy Peters choreographs the show which tells the story of Aida, the daughter of Amonasro and Princess of Nubia.
Aida is captured as a slave by Radames, captain of the Egyptian army, who doesn’t know her true identity. Her royalty is unknown to all except Mereb, a servant, and she is given to the Egyptian princess Amneris as her handmaiden and the two gradually become friends.
Aida falls in love with Radames, but is torn between her desire for him and her duty to her people, who are looking to her to lead them out of Egypt, back into freedom.
With Ellen playing Aida, the leading role of Radames is played by Luke Flacks.
Other well-known names in the company include Sharon Whitehead who plays Amneris, while Chris Sleigh plays Mereb and Paul Bennett plays Zoser.
Aida premiered on Broadway in 2000, and ran for 1,852 performances until it closed in 2004 before touring the US and internationally.
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 the show will run from June 18-23 at Southgate Theatre, Honley.
l To sponsor the programme, tickets or become a Friend of Aida, email Ellen Ball on firstname.lastname@example.org.