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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 3 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 01
No tears shed: Evita is a hit
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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No tears shed: Evita is a hit

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

EVITA
PARAMOUNT THEATRE
Through January 5


The Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice mega-hit musical, Evita, was revived on Broadway nearly two years ago for the first time since its 1979 debut. The national touring company of Evita has begun and is now in Seattle for a limited time. With wonderful music, this newly revised rendition is a beautiful sight and definitely of star quality.

Telling the story of the infamous First Lady of Argentina, the musical biasedly shows the life of the rags to riches, 20th century, South American Cinderella. Starting from poverty beginnings in 1920, Evita Duarte claws her way into the social society of Buenos Aires through a series of helpful relationships with a variety of men. Her life changes when she meets Colonel Juan Perón, a military-career man on his rise to power in a country ruled by an unstable military government. The two instantly fall in love bonding over a deeply rooted, shared ambition. Eva, as a rising radio star, rallies the people to his causes, while he overthrows military opposition, and together they soon become the President and First Lady of Argentina. While traveling abroad trying to build political relationships with the post World War Two European Powers, Eva starts to show signs of illness. She returns home and starts the Eva Perón Foundation to help the lower classes of Argentina. At age 33, Eva Perón dies of cervical cancer, sending the country into a massive state of mourning, and leaving a legacy as one of history's most notorious women.

Sean MacLaughlin plays the military dictator Juan Perón. With a strong voice and a good stage presence he brings the role of Perón into a third dimension. The role is written as flat in order to let the female lead shine, but Mr. MacLaughlin lets Perón stand out with his own energy and personality so the audience can get an insight into the support and private ambitions that fueled Perón's goals.

Caroline Bowman plays the social climbing Eva Perón. Her voice is clear; her stage presence is palpable, and her dancing is on the mark. She easily shows us Evita's fierce determination, and even the character's capacity for empathy when singing (beautifully heartfelt) the runaway-hit song, 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina.' Although using a sneer to represent determination a little too often, Ms. Bowman definitely keeps the strength of Evita's backbone and her relentless tenacity consistently throughout the show.

The real star of this musical pop-opera is the 'Everyday Man,' and unofficial narrator of the musical, Che, played brilliantly by Josh Young. Mr. Young shows his extreme talent from the opening scenes when he is on stage, and where he remains throughout most of the show. His voice is strong, taking complete control of each song and delivering them without failure. Through crafted inflections and subtle expressions, Mr. Young fully expresses the frustration-turned-excitement-turned disappointment at the Perón rise and their governing dictatorship of the country.

The entire cast steps up to the (tango) plate and delivers a completely enjoyable performance. All voices blend well with good harmonies, and each ensemble member adds a subtle nuance contributing to the success of this production. Christopher Johnstone and Krystina Alabado, performing the musical's two supporting characters, the tango singer Magaldi and Perón's young mistress (the character is only known by that designation), respectively, both do well with their solo songs. The choreography is beautifully tango-based giving the rich feel of the culture of Buenos Aires.

The scenic design by Christopher Oram should definitely get a mention. With highly effective results, actual film footage of the ornate coffin and Evita's funeral procession were used, giving the audience a glimpse of the magnificent impact she had on the country.



After a conception/studio album release in London (with Elaine Paige as Eva and Colm Wilkinson as Che), Evita opened on Broadway in early September 1979. Bringing together the powerhouse team of Bob Gunton (Perón), Mandy Patinkin (Che) and Patti LuPone (Eva), the musical was directed by the great impresario Hal Prince. Nominated for 13 Tony Awards it won 7, including Best Book (Tim Rice), Best Score (Andrew Lloyd Webber), Best Featured Actor (Mandy Patinkin), Best Actress (Patti LuPone), and Best Direction of a Musical (Hal Prince).

The first revival of Evita began on Broadway in March 2012. Starring Tony winner Michael Cerveris as Perón, and Grammy winner Ricky Martin as Che, the revival made history with Elena Roger, being the first Argentine woman to play the title role on Broadway. It was nominated for three Tony awards including Best Revival and Best Featured Actor (Michael Cerveris), but didn't win.

After many years of pursuit, the pop diva Madonna was awarded the acclaimed role for the film version in 1996. With Antonio Banderas as Che, and Jonathan Pryce as Perón, a new song was added to the score. The song 'You Must Love Me' (included in the current stage production) won the only Oscar for the film.

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