Photos provided by the Players Guild Theatre
Mark your calendars for November 2-18
The Players Guild Theatre in Canton has called in some star power for its upcoming performance of “Aida.”
Broadway performer and choreographer Brandon Michael will play the leading male role. Michael was born in Canton and grew up in Northeast Ohio, and after spending more than a decade performing in New York City and on Broadway national tours, he decided to return home to teach at a dance studio in Mentor and to be closer to his family.
He doesn’t have any previous connection to the Guild but found the theater after seeing a billboard advertising this summer’s performance of “The Full Monty.” He also never has been in a production of “Aida” or even seen the show performed because it closed the same year he moved to New York.
“I never got to see it, but I had the cast album, and I just wore the cast album out,” he said. “I love the music.”
Michael said he’s most excited to make the part his own. On Broadway, he typically would play a smaller role and cover one of the principal parts but only would get to play it if someone got sick during the run of the show.
“To have the opportunity to step into a leading role like this and have it be mine from the beginning is really cool, really special,” he said.
Returning to the Guild stage to play the title role is Joy Ellis, who had leading roles in “Sister Act” and “Memphis” in 2017 at the Guild. She will be reprising the role of Aida, a part she played in 2007 under the same director, Jon Tisevich, for a RiverTree Players production at the Lions Lincoln Theatre in Massillon that was an outreach effort for RiverTree Christian Church.
At the time, Canton Repository entertainment editor Dan Kane wrote the show was one of the best community theater productions he ever had seen, and he raved about Ellis’s talent: “A lovely young woman, she has a glorious singing voice, an equally ear-pleasing speaking voice and is at ease onstage in this complex role, conveying regal bravery and girlish vulnerability at once,” the review read. “Throughout, she is a radiant presence.”
Ellis spoke with Kane for the All About Art cover feature in this issue and talked about her role in this musical: “I really fell in love with the music,” she said in her interview. “That is what drew me to it initially. I love to sing this show. There are crazy high notes.”
“Aida,” with music and lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice, tells the story of a love triangle between Aida, an enslaved Nubian princess; Radames, an Egyptian solider who will be in line to be Pharaoh once he marries; and Amneris, an Egyptian princess and Radames’ fiancée. Aida ultimately is forced to choose between fighting for her people and her family and her forbidden love for Radames. The show won four Tony awards in 2000, including best original score. Some of the musical’s iconic songs include “Written in the Stars” and “Every Story is a Love Story.”
The Guild production opens November 2 and runs through November 18 at the W.G. Fry Theatre with performances on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $32 for adults, with reduced prices available for seniors and students.