'Aida' kicks off in Minneapolis, 'Kate' begins in New Haven

NEW YORK – Patrick Cassidy is headlining the national tour of Disney’s “Aida,” while Rex Smith has nabbed the lead role in the upcoming road company of “Kiss Me, Kate.”

The upcoming national tours of two of last season’s bigger Broadway hits have also announced other major casting. Simone (the actress goes by a single name) will play the title role in the Disney tuner opposide Cassidy. There’s no word yet on who will take the third principal role of Amneris in the tour of the Elton John/Tim Rice version of the Verdi warhorse.

Rachel York will play Lilli Vanessi opposite Smith in the Michael Blakemore-directed revival of the Cole Porter classic about a warring thesp couple starring in a musical version of “The Taming of the Shrew.”

Cassidy recently departed “Annie Get Your Gun,” opposite Cheryl Ladd, at Gotham’s Marquis Theater. (Brent Barrett has now moved into the role on Broadway opposite Reba McEntire.) Until recently, Simone was Heather Headley’s standby in “Aida” on Broadway.

Smith and York were recently seen together in the Frank Wildhorn tuner “The Scarlet Pimpernel” on Broadway.

The first national tour of “Kate” opens in New Haven, Conn., this June, while the “Aida” tour kicks off at Minneapolis’ Orpheum Theater in March.

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