BWW Reviews: EVITA Enthralls Durham
Evita, a long-beloved musical from Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice, has landed in Durham for the week. The national tour follows a Broadway revival which played to New York audiences in 2012.
Tony nominee Josh Young leads the cast as Che, the show's narrator. Che navigates audiences through the life of the titular character, from her humble beginnings as Eva Duarte to life in the big city of Buenes Aires, and ultimately to first lady of Argentina with husband Juan Perón. One of the most divisive political entities of the 20th century, power-couple Juan and Eva Perón made their indelible mark on the landscape of Argentinian and world history in such dramatic fashion that a grandiose stage musical is a fitting venue for telling their story. Eva's popularity among the masses and untimely death make her an enigmatic figure for the ages. Actress Caroline Bowman takes on Webber's interpretation of Eva, high belting and all, with incredible skill, grace, and grit. Young's Che is equally wonderful. As someone who has spent many hours of my life listening to Mandy Patinkin sing the role on my vinyl copy of the original 1979 Broadway cast recording, I couldn't have imagined another person who could take on the heart and nuance of the role so well as Patinkin - enter Young. He plays the role so eloquently, from the killer high notes to the emotional complexity of the working Argentinian masses, Young's performance is not to be missed. With the addition of Sean MacLaughlin as Perón, Christopher Johnstone as Magaldi, and Krystina Alabado as the mistress, the cast is one of the most vocally talented you're likely to see in any touring production in America right now. Though Alabado is featured in only one number, her performance of "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" is so spot-on you'll be left with goosebumps.
Several scenes, including the opening funeral scene include interesting use and integration of vintage film footage, using the space on stage well to incorporate the live actors and film reels simultaneously and create a dynamic tableau of interconnected reality and dramatization. The lighting design, by Neil Austin, creates the right ambiance for the show. Aided by a generous amount of theatrical fog, and sometimes tending toward a little too dark, the lighting manages to set the stage for a political overhaul from which an entire nation can still feel the effects.
Evita, though dark, has moments of tongue-in-cheek humor, and tells a grand story on a grand scale. With sets of magnitude to match the tale, larger-than-life talent, notes most humans simply cannot sing, and a whole lot of heart, this production of Evita will not disappoint.
Evita runs through March 16. For tickets or more information, visit www.dpacnc.com.