BWW Reviews: EVITA Soars at the Marcus Center
Evita opened at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday night. After seeing the production on Broadway last winter (and being thoroughly disappointed), I went into this performance with an open mind, hoping that the performance would be better than in New York. Luckily, this production outshone that of the Broadway one by far.
One of the most popular musicals of all time, Evita tells the story of Eva Perón, one of the most loved figures in Argentinian history. Eva leaves her family and home at age 15 to head to the big city - Buenos Aires. We follow her rise to fame as she models and becomes a radio star, before finally meeting Juan Perón at an Earthquake relief benefit. Their relationship quickly blossoms and the couple marry, becoming a political powerhouse in Argentina as champions for the middle class - "los descamisados" (the shirtless ones). Juan Perón is elected president and the two continue to dominate the political landscape. Eva departs on tour of Europe (the Rainbow Tour) as she starts to weaken from the cancer that will eventually take her life, just prior to Juan Peron's re-election as president.
After what seemed like a glitchy start, this production offered much more than I had hoped for. During the first few songs, it seemed like there may have been a sound issue - the orchestra far out powered the vocals, making it difficult to understand the lyrics. However, as the show continued (especially once Eva had moved to Buenos Aires), this was far improved. The set is gorgeous and very realistic. I almost felt as if I was really were outside the "Case Rosada" as Eva sang Evita's signature song - Don't Cry for Me Argentina.
Beyond the remarkable set, the cast really helped this production stand out. Caroline Bowman's vocals as Eva were outstanding - her voice soared through the theater and gave me goose bumps, especially when it came to Eva's ballads. Her vulnerability and accessibility as Eva aged was believable and refreshing, adding an additional air of authenticity to the production. As Che, Josh Young brought more humility to the character than you might normally associate with Che. Young's vocals were stunning and touching. As Juan Perón, Sean MacLaughlin was powerful and commanding, fitting for the character he portrayed. As Perón's mistress (sent packing by Eva early on in the show), Krystina Alabado brought the house down with her soaring "Another Suitcase in Another Hall".
Overall, this production of Evita is one that is entertaining, educational and well worth seeing. Evita plays through February 9th at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets can be purchased online via Ticketmaster or by calling the box office at (414) 273-7206.