Lenape High School to debut spring musical ‘Aida’ on March 2

A soldier and princess from warring regions in ancient times fall in love in this show set to music by Elton John.

Lenape High School students Enrique Gonzalez and Jaelyn Alexander rehearse for their roles as Radames and Aida in Lenape’s upcoming production of ‘Aida.’ The show debuts at Lenape on March 2.

One is an Egyptian soldier named Radames. The other is a Nubian princess named Aida.

As Egypt and Nubia continue to battle, the soldier captures the princess, only for the pair to find themselves falling in love.

With the soldier betrothed to the Egyptian pharaoh’s daughter, what follows is a love triangle set in ancient Egypt, juxtaposed by music from Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice.

“Aida” debuted on Broadway in 2000 and won four Tony awards, including Best Original Score. Now Lenape High School is preparing to debut its own production of the show on March 2.

Despite years of experience elsewhere, the show only marks director Michael Del Rossi’s second year at the helm of Lenape’s spring production.

While Del Rossi said he wanted to “play it safe” with his first selection of “Annie” as last year’s show, he quickly realized he had a strong, core group of actors at the school.

This led to Del Rossi selecting “Aida” for his second spring venture at Lenape — a show he said simply has more depth.

“I had seen ‘Aida’ on Broadway when it first opened, and I was so moved by this beautiful story,” Del Rossi said. “It’s a very powerful, moving story, and I knew at some point in my career I wanted to direct it. The time was just right with the strong group of kids I have this year.”

Del Rossi knows audiences may not be as familiar with “Aida” as they are with shows such as “Annie,” yet with star-crossed lovers and music from Elton John, Del Rossi jokingly tells people “Aida” is akin to “Romeo and Juliet” set to “Crocodile Rock.”

According to Del Rossi, the show features a wide variety of music, from soaring love ballads, to funk, to ’80s synth, to pop rock. With that in mind, Del Rossi said his goal is to get more people through Lenape’s doors to hopefully fall in love with the show as he did all those years ago.

“What Elton John and Tim Rice did with this musical is truly amazing,” Del Rossi said. “They take this anachronistic music and set it in ancient Egypt, and somehow it works. It really is stunning how beautiful some of these numbers are.”

Lenape High School students Enrique Gonzalez and Jaelyn Alexander rehearse for their roles as Radames and Aida in Lenape’s upcoming production of ‘Aida.’ The show debuts at Lenape on March 2.

Senior Jaelyn Alexander, who has the show’s titular role as Aida, praised the talent and dedication of her castmates and predicated a “phenomenal production” by the time the show is ready to debut.

Alexander also praised the story of the show, where despite the war between Egypt and Nubia, Aida and Radames are able to find what brings them together, rather than what could tear them apart.

“I definitely think in today’s society, where we tend to focus on the differences, it’d be good for people to see that there’s more commonalities than differences,” Alexander said.

Junior Enrique Gonzalez also spoke to the show’s lesson on diversity.

“Aida and Radames are still able to continue their secret love. Despite one being Egyptian and one being Nubian, they still find a way to be together,” Gonzalez said. “In life today, people should put aside their differences and find that commonality between each other.”

Lenape’s production of “Aida” debuts on March 2 at 7 p.m. at Lenape High School. The show also has performances scheduled for March 3 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., on March 9 at 7 p.m. and on March 10 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

All tickets for the show are $10 and are available at the door.