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Perham Community Musical "Aida" premieres November 16th

Dress rehearsal. Michael Denny/Perham Focus1 / 3
Prop used in the production of "Aida." Michael Denny/Perham Focus2 / 3
Nicole Mattfeld, leading a portion of her cast. Michael Denny/Perham Focus3 / 3

Cast members moved swiftly to prepare costumes, microphones and set pieces during a rehearsal for the upcoming community musical "Aida."

Director of the Egyptian style musical, Nicole Mattfeld, led an ensemble of enthusiastic actors and actresses as they practiced their lines and musical performances. Students danced and moved in precise unison. Bronze-age props and carefully placed royal set pieces served as the perfect backdrop for a play about forbidden love in ancient Egypt.

The story takes place during a war ravaged time and centers on Aida, an enslaved Nubian princess that falls in love with a soldier, who is betrothed to the pharaoh's daughter. Their forbidden love sparks a dramatic love triangle. Aida must choose between her beloved Radames and the fate of her people.

The play features a wide variety of music produced by Elton John. Musical genres from pop to reggae are performed in this unique period piece. The director remarked that Elton John's soundtrack was a major determining factor in choosing this play for the community theater. "We wanted good music' it really just fit for the students that wanted to do it, said Mattfeld.

Of course, at the core of every musical is a love for music and performance. That passion is clearly displayed by Ryan Murphy, who plays the soldier Radames. Murphy expressed a passion for singing and explained that the soundtrack by Elton John was his favorite part of the musical. This is his first leading role.

Mattfeld described preparing for the musical as a great deal of work which involved her taking on a multitude of different roles. Costumes, directing and choreography are just some of the tasks she's responsible for. She and her team started preparations in the spring. After several months of design, auditions were held in September, followed by eight weeks of rehearsal. The entire six-month process culminates in a show packed with art direction and musical flare.

Practice, practice, practice is the main component to any musical, according to Jeff Fritz, a member of the ensamble. Adorned with a flashy red outfit decorated with makeshift leather shoulder pads, he went on to say that his favorite part of "Aida" is "the whole musical, our cast is great!"

"You have to think about every single thing— the lights, the costumes, the microphones..." remarked Mattfeld as her cast members rushed by to take the stage. Putting on a show of this complexity requires so many moving parts and a team of dedicated individuals to pull it all off.

Hanna Beck, another member of the ensemble, described just how difficult some aspects of the production are. The musical doesn't have many blackout or scene transition moments, meaning the crew and cast must work quickly to progress to each new scene.

The leading lady, Lizzy LaFond, gathered with her fellow cast as they gleefully inspected their newly arrived costumes. Lafond discussed her numerous costume changes and difficulties with the role. "I have to be very expressive, it's like an internal battle."

"Aida" will be performed by a cast of 45 students and community members. It will take place Nov. 16-18 at the old Perham high school auditorium, door 3. Admission for students and seniors is $10 and adults are $12. Tickets can be purchased online or at the activities office at Perham High School.

For more information contact Nicole Mattfeld at 218-346-6559.