The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 18, 2013

'Aida,' a love story, to be staged at Cresson Lake

A Romeo and Juliet story of forbidden love will touch the hearts of the audience.

The musical “Aida: The Timeless Love Story” will be presented July 25 through Aug. 10 at Cresson Lake Playhouse, 279 Shapiro Road, Loretto.

Showtimes will be 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. July 28 and Aug. 4.

The contemporary musical takes on the classic tale of the  ill-fated romance between Egyptian general Radames and Aida, a Nubian princess and slave.

As forbidden love blossoms, the young lovers are forced to face death or part forever.

“Aida” is the winner of four 2000 Tony Awards, including best musical score, with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice.

Their pop-rock score features stirring ballads and rousing choral numbers.

The musical is making its debut at Cresson Lake, and so is its director, Claire Houser of Ebensburg.

Houser has served as stage manager for Central Cambria High School, Penn State-Altoona, Blair County Arts Foundation and Cresson Lake, as well as appearing onstage at the playhouse.

She started on this production as stage manager, but ended up taking the director’s reins when the previous director moved to Florida.

“We were sad that the director left, but it was a blessing in disguise,” Houser said. “I became director, and my assistant stage manager became manager. We built an entire team quickly, and it has been a fun experience.”

Houser has always had an interest in the behind-the-scenes work of the theater and desired to go to school and become a full-time stage manager.

“I love directing, but it’s a whole different beast,” she said. “When I acted, I would take direction and hold the director in high esteem. Their word is law. It’s very strange for that to be me.

“I’ve worked onstage or as stage manager with a lot of the cast. They have a respect for me, and I know where they’re coming from.”

It’s been a challenge for Houser to block the production in Cresson Lake’s barn theater.

“On Broadway, they have scenes dissolving,” Houser said. “At Cresson Lake, there’s no place to hide anything. We’re working out the kinks.”

The cast features Katrina Bodenschatz of State College as Aida, Ty Quillon of Johnstown as Radames, Kelly Devett of Johnstown as Amneris, Josh Devett of Johnstown as Zoster, Tony Malvoisin of Colver as Amonasro, Breanne Huber of Hastings as Nahebka, Jake Smith of Patton as Mereb and Josh Demi of Northern Cambria as Pharoh.

The ensemble will feature Jonathan Morrone, Sierra Wilt, Michael Nicholson, Hayley Lingenfelder, Cecilia Houser, Johnathon Hutchison, Mallory Bean, Kyle Huber, Anne Rematt and Hannah Lushko.

Featured dancers will be Bre Corle, Marie Gattusa, Tony Demi, Johnna Cwik, Anne Dominick and Hannah Love.

If you go ...

What: “Aida: The Timeless Love Story.”

Where: Cresson Lake Playhouse, 279 Shapiro Road, Loretto.

When: July 25 through Aug. 10.

Showtimes: 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. July 28 and Aug. 4.

Tickets: $17 for adults and $10 for students younger than 18.

Information: 472-4333 or www.Cressonlake.com.

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