Production of ‘Aida’ rewarding experience


PORTSMOUTH — The Portsmouth High School (PHS) three-day production of the Broadway play, ‘Aida’ has come to an end, and local history has been made. The production marked the first time in PHS history that an African American student portrayed a lead role in a school.

Emily Smith, the vocal music teacher at PHS, said she is at a loss of words regarding the performance of her students who participated in Aida.

“I wish I had the words to describe how truly proud I am of these students. They gave it their all at each performance and I can’t praise them enough. Aida is a difficult musical for adults to perform, let alone high school students. Anyone who came to the show was able to see these students in characters that ranged from comedic to dramatic and I think they performed each role beautifully,” Smith said.

Smith said she has received much positive feedback about her choice to do the production.

“Many people have congratulated me on choosing such a different show. I think it’s important to give these students various types of shows throughout their four year high school musical career to make them well-rounded. They need a good mixture of classical and modern shows and I feel that Aida has definitely given them a powerful show to add to their repertoire,” Smith said.

She is grateful for the students that she works with, and the support she receives from the district in which she works, and to continue a legacy her predecessors.

“I’ve been blessed to work with some of the most talented students on a daily basis and I’m so thankful to work for a district that truly supports the fine arts. Portsmouth High School has such a rich Broadway tradition that was started by Charles Varney, followed by Mark Williams, and continued by Sally Gower. I feel so lucky that I have been chosen to carry on this tradition at PHS and I really look forward to the years to come,” Smith said.

Semajah Parker, the PHS 11th grade student who portrayed the main character, ‘Aida,’ said playing the role of Aida has been a life changing experience for her.

“Aida was a huge success and this weekend went so well! I’ve received so many nice compliments and messages after the show. Having the opportunity to play such an amazing and challenging role has truly been life changing,” Parker said.

Concerning the PHS Spring Musical for the 2016-2017 school year, Smith said she is still deciding, and the details for the future production are forthcoming.

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Submitted photo | Daily Times
Portsmouth High School conducted a three day production of Broadway play, ‘Aida’. photo | Daily Times
Portsmouth High School conducted a three day production of Broadway play, ‘Aida’.

By Portia Williams

[email protected]

Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.

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