‘Aida’ Anew

Upcoming musical features two fresh faces


Lucy Tu, Staff Writer

“The more we explore, the more we shall return. Fortune favors the brave,” – Aida

In MN’s upcoming musical Aida, two new faces got a taste of “fortune favoring the brave” when they took a courageous leap and auditioned for the musical for the first time. Neither has participated in theater before.

Aida centers around a passionate Nubian princess who falls in love with the engaged captain of the army that captured her. This Elton John original brings the story of an Egyptian era Romeo and Juliet to the stage.

“My audition was the first time I’d ever really sang in front of a decent number of people. Afterwards, my face was burning and everyone was staring at me, which I wasn’t sure was a good or bad thing,” male lead Ryan Mendez said.
Mendez plays Radames, the strong-willed Egyptian captain that Aida falls in love with. He stars opposite senior Aryal Wilson, who is also new to the musical.

“This is my first time,” Wilson said. “I’ve only ever really done show choir, and I’m not really sure what pushed me to audition, but I’m glad I did.”

Wilson portrays Amneris, the vivacious Egyptian princess who is betrothed to Mendez’s Radames. Both Mendez and Wilson agree that being two of Aida’s most pivotal characters is a huge responsibility that they are not familiar with.

“The hardest part is definitely all the pressure that gets put on you, trying to memorize all the lines, especially since it’s my first time with a major role,” Mendez said.

While their characters differ vastly, long rehearsals and high pressure are two experiences Aida’s leads share.

“At first, to be honest, I was like: ‘I hate this. I don’t know why I did it,’ because I was really nervous about singing the songs, and I’ve never acted before. During rehearsal, you’re either at a stop, or you’re go, go go,” Wilson said. “But then we started the acting part of this one scene, and I discovered I absolutely love it. Everything clicked after getting into it, and I had my click day and I was like: ‘Wow! That feels amazing!’”

Intense practice and stress are not the only experiences Mendez and Wilson share. They both add that certain aspects of the musical community make everything easier.

“The best part is that I have a lot of great people around me supporting me. They’re really excited for me, which is great,” Mendez said.

Like Mendez, Wilson agrees that being in a solo role does not mean you are on your own.

“As a lead you’re put out there by yourself, but I feel like I can talk to anyone. I’m meeting everyone as I go,” Wilson said. “It feels like I can come to them for advice, if I’m feeling some type of way or if I just need someone to talk to.”
While Mendez and Wilson may have had some initial nerves, there seems to be no questions about their talent and ability.

“Ryan has a very commanding presence. He kind of tapped into that exact character immediately,” Aida director Megan Tantillo said. “Aryal has a stunning voice. She takes direction really well. We’re already seeing the positive effect they have on the cast.”

Aside from the musical prowess leading this production, the story of Aida itself provides a deeper message. Though it has its origins in Disney, Aida contains themes on love, racism, and standing up for what you believe in. These themes are guaranteed to make a strong appearance in this upcoming adaptation. MN’s leads may not have years of practice in theater, but they are ready to take on the challenge.

“I’m nervous but definitely excited,” Mendez said. “We’re a bunch of crazy kids, and the musical is going to be a blast.”

Opening night is on October 5th, and the cast and crew are eagerly preparing for their debut. Aida’s leads are no exception. Though they may have been apprehensive at first, they have stepped into the spotlight, showing that fortune truly does favor the brave.