While the Disney-produced musical itself was suspiciously not nominated for Best Musical, the 2000 Tony Awards committee saw it fit to award Elton John & Tim Rice's stylish and emotional rock musical AIDA in four significant categories on June 4, 2000 - Best Actress In A Musical for Heather Headley charismatic lead performance, Best Score for Elton John and Tim Rice's moving and expressive music and lyrics, Best Scenic Design for Bob Crowley's stunning set-pieces and Best Lighting Design for Natasha Katz's enveloping illumination of the Palace Theatre's rightly famous stage. The show has gone on to a rich life around the world and in amateur productions, with generations of theatergoers hooked on the classic story once told in an opera by Verdi in a totally modern and dynamic new way - with some songs we are not soon to forget.
Few scores in the twelve seasons since AIDA's win in the oh-so-important Tony Award category for Best Score have the sheer number of durable and instantly appealing melodies as that in Elton John and Tim Rice's effortlessly cool and immediately addictive rock, pop, R&B, gospel and Egyptian-influenced music to Rice's characteristic colloquial, witty, urban poetic lyrics. Featuring a song that actually made the Top 40 when originally sung by Elton John and LeAnn Rimes for the concept album of the show when it was still in its infancy - "Written In The Stars" - AIDA came as a readymade hit for Disney - or, should we say, Hyperion Theatricals - and had a healthy run in the years following its debut, racking up nearly 1900 performances in all. Tony-winner Heather Headley, who previously had appeared in Elton John and Tim Rice's first Tony-winning stage collaboration, the still-running modern classic THE LION KING, spearheaded the original production alongside iconic RENT lead and current MEMPHIS star Adam Pascal and Broadway notable Sherie Rene Scott. Toni Braxton, Deborah Cox, Idina Menzel and other stupendous leading ladies followed, but the original cast as presented in the visually stunning, sweetly sonorous original production was hard to top. AIDA is a show history will undoubtedly look favorably upon and it should certainly provide the material for sure-to-be intriguing revivals in the coming years. It's already been twelve years since its big bow, believe it or not!
Check out Heather Headley leading the original cast of Elton John & Tim Rice's AIDA in the unforgettable Act One closer, the rousing and expressive "The Gods Love Nubia", in this thrilling performance from THE ROSIE O'DONNELL SHOW. Rosie hosted that year's Tony Awards, as well.
Also, sample this passionate rendition of the AIDA duet standout "Elaborate Lives" - which was originally the title of the show - as rendered by original cast members Heather Headley and Adam Pascal at the star-studded concert MY FAVORITE BROADWAY: THE LOVE SONGS.
As a special bonus, take a look at the music video for "Written In The Stars" by Elton John and LeAnn Rimes here.
So, what is your personal favorite of the many engaging earworms in the score of AIDA: "The Gods Love Nubia"? "Elaborate Lives"? "Written In The Stars"? There are so many stunning entries in the songstack! Furthermore, who would you like to see cast in a future revival of the show? It offers so many ample opportunities for performers of the pop and rock persuasion that the possibilities are almost endless!