STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For 21st Century Media
Political intrigue and a forbidden love affair set to music by a legendary pop/rock composer. That’s “Aida.” And that’s the first production of a new season for Narberth Community Theatre (NCT). The show opens Nov. 7.
The score was written by Elton John, with lyrics by Tim Rice, for this Disney show that bowed on Broadway in 2000. Now that tale comes to life through the more than 50-year-old community, all-volunteer theater.
In the musical, Captain Radames is to marry princess Amneris, but a captive named Aida comes between them and forever changes their lives.
Miandabu Mbuy plays Aida and jumped at the chance to do so.
“I’m a big musical fan. I knew the opera, but had never seen the [Broadway] show. I knew some of the songs,” she said.
As for her character, Mbuy likes her.
“She’s got a lot of moxie,” she said. “She’s able to use her wits to not have to go to work in the mines. She has a natural regalness. She’s not your average person.”
Mbuy isn’t an average performer either. She studied education and musical theater at West Chester University. Being a teacher during the year then having summers free to perform is the best of both worlds. She also likes performing during the year with theaters like NCT, since she’s drawn to entertainment and the arts, even though she’s happy being a teacher.
“Community theater is enough for me,” she said. “That way, I can get it out of my system.”
This is Mbuy’s first show with NCT, though she worked with some of the cast in other performances around the region. She never felt like an outsider with those she hadn’t met yet. “The people I didn’t know came up and gave me hugs,” she said. “That was nice.”
For Alexandra Rush, who plays Amneris, this isn’t her first NCT show, but the first time she has performed there in about 10 years. Her last performance there was as a member of the ensemble in “Hello Dolly” in 10th grade. She’s happy to be back, especially with this production.
“This show is one of my favorites. I saw it on Broadway with two different casts, I loved it so much,” she said.
She’s also excited to be part of the NCT family again.
“I love everyone in our cast and crew,” she said. “The cast are all talented and such nice people. It’s a pleasure to work with them. I look forward to rehearsal so much because I get to see them. It’s been a great experience.”
Playing this role has, too.
“Amneris has a large character arc, from beginning to end,” Rush said. “She goes through a lot and really comes into her own.”
She’s also a complex character that’s a lot of fun to play.
“She has always known what she likes versus what she has to do,” Rush said. “She’s a lot smarter than people give her credit for.”
Like Mbuy, Rush studied musical theater in school. She has also worked as a singing bartender and as a waitress while going on auditions and doing showcases. It’s a lot of hard work being a performer, but she loves it. And she’s loving her experience with NCT.
“They’re great people and I think it’s going to be a great show,” she said. “It really is a timeless love story.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Narberth Community Theatre, at Overbrook Presbyterian Church located at 6376 City Line Ave., Philadelphia.
When: 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat; 3 p.m. Sun. Nov. 7 through Nov. 22.
Admission: Tickets are $16-$19.
Info.: Call 610-352-4823 or visit www.narberthcommunitytheatre.org.
More: Narberth’s 2014-2015 season continues with Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” in March and Mary Chase’s “Harvey” in May.