BWW Reviews: EVITA - A New Rendition
BWW Reviews: "EVITA" - "A NEW RENDITION"
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Choreography by Rob Ashford
Directed by Michael Grandage
March 18th, 2014 at 7:30P.M.
The National Touring Company of "EVITA", is the current offering at Carol Morasani Hall at the Straz Center in Tampa, Fl, though March 23rd.
Die-hard fans of the original Broadway "EVITA", (like myself), may be disappointed, with this latest trimmed down, smaller, re-vamped version of the legendary, Rock Opera musical.
The passionate and tragic story of "EVITA" revolves around the early life of poor beginnings, rise to fame, charity work, and death of the "First Lady" of Argentina, political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón.
"EVITA" began as a rock opera concept album, released in 1976. It opened in London's West End in 1978, winning the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical,
The show opened on Broadway in 1979, at the Broadway Theatre and closed in 1983, after 1,567 performances. EVITA won 7 Tony Awards including Best Musical and six Drama Desk Awards. Patti LuPone starred as Eva, with Mandy Patinkin as Che.
A film adaptation of the musical was released in 1996, nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one for Best Original Song ("You Must Love Me," composed especially for the film). It starred Madonna and Antonio Banderas. "EVITA"was revived in London in 2006, and on Broadway in 2012.
I saw the original Broadway production of "EVITA" eight times, starring Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinken. I also saw it starring Loni Ackerman. Every performance was a dynamic, sensational experience! The cast and production elements were extraordinary! The audience was left breathless. Everyone jumped to their feet for a standing ovation with cheers and whistles and screams! The original Broadway EVITA", was an EVENT!
There are somewhat iconic elements that 'EVITA" fans "expect" to see. Some of these are either re-envisioned or completely eliminated in this version.
For instance, I missed the opening of the show, where an audience is watching a film at a cinema in Buenos Aires. The Spanish dialogue in the film is interrupted by an announcer, with the message (beginning in Spanish, and fading into English) that "Eva Perón entered immortality at 20:25 hours this evening".
One of my favorite scenes (which was reconstructed), was the game of musical chairs, with Perón and other military men competing for power in "The Art of the Possible". The chair choreography in the original production was mesmerizing. There were no chairs in this version. Instead, an awkward wrestling match.
I also missed the signs for the rallies, where the people show their hope for a better future, in "A New Argentina". Lastly, I missed the children's choir, especially in "Santa Evita". This is not a revival of the original Broadway production.
This production is good and Director Michael Grandage keeps it moving at a brisk pace. Some scenes seemed a bit rushed at that. The choreography by Rob Austin was repetitive. It is not a revival however, of the original Broadway production; and a revival is what I expected.
Many of the scenes were on an almost bare stage. The set pieces by scenic and costume designer Christopher Oram, were impressive, as in the Presidential mansion, the Casa Rosada façade, and Eva's balcony. Eva's balcony gown was stunningly beautiful and truly vintage "Evita". Sound design by Mick Potter was clear and well balanced.
The cast of singers and dancers are excellent, (albeit lighting designer Neil Austin had the ensemble in fog and/or darkness, quite a bit which made it challenging to see).
Caroline Bowman is an energetic and enthusiastic Eva. Ms. Bowman has a powerful voice in her mid-range, but is sometimes weak in her upper register, where her diction suffers as well. What is missing is the "star quality" personality and magnetism that made Eva Peron into the beloved icon of the people of Argentina..."Santa Evita". Ms. Bowman's lovely rendition of "You Must Love Me" was a highlight of her performance.
The shining star of this production is the casting of Che. Triple threat and Tony Award winner, Josh Young gives an astoundingly, brilliant performance. His voice is amazing and his acting is natural and honest. In addition, he has mastered his diction making every word he sings and speaks understandably clear. He stopped the show with his rendition of "And the Money Kept Rolling In". Josh Young IS Che. To me, there is no artist yet, that can compare to his performance in this role. He is simply captivating!
Sean MacLaughlin gave a fine, confident performance, as Juan Peron. He has a strong, resonant singing and speaking voice and clear diction.
A less smarmy Migaldi, is played by Christopher Johnstone, who showed off his singing chops in "On This Night of a Thousand Stars".
Krystina Alabado was outstanding in the cameo role of the Mistress. Her haunting, lyrical soprano voice, captured the true essence of her character, so vividly, in "Another Suitcase in Another Hall".
Kudos to Musical Director/Conductor William Waldrop, for his fine choral and orchestra direction.
If you never saw a live, production of "EVITA", GO SEE IT!
This is a legendary piece of Musical Theatre History.
Recommended for ages 12+.
"EVITA" will play Carol Morsani Hall, March 18th- 23rd, 2014 at at the Straz Center, 1010 North W.C. MacInnes Place • Tampa, Florida 33602 Tickets: $46.50 - $92.00 and may be purchased by calling 813.229.STAR (7827) or 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay, or in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online