BWW Review: EVITA at ACT Of Connecticut
The ACT of Connecticut has successfully followed up their debut show, "Mamma Mia," with another well known musical, EVITA, and like with "Mamma Mia," has staged a far superior production than anywhere else I have seen this show! This musical, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics from Tim Rice is brought to life under the brilliant direction of Daniel C. Levine.
The entire stage is utilized, including the center stage circle which revolves both clockwise and counter-clockwise, enhancing the quality of the production. Spotlights were in the right places, and lighting effects enhanced the scenery on the sides and in the back of the stage.
Evan Roider directs a very talented nine piece orchestra that helps create the mood and feel of this musical with the storyline primarily carried through the music, with very few spoken words.
Julia Estrada provides a breathtaking performance, starring as Eva Perón, upon whom the central storyline revolves. Julia Estrada's performance as Eva provides everything an audience wants to see in a lead actress, including stellar singing, acting, and conveying of emotion. "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," is the musical's best and most well known song. I never heard it performed any better than Julia Estrada does in this production.
Without any inappropriate graphic depictions, the story shows Eva's younger days when she tried to sleep her way to fame with singer Magaldi, with other men she used, and to when she seduces Juan Perón who she marries. While Eva tries to claim that her promiscuity was all with the ultimate goal of political aspirations to create what she perceives as economic justice, and not for personal fortune and fame, even if she is being honest, positive goals do not justify such methods of attaining them.
A children's choir makes a cameo appearance with impressive harmonies. The ensemble adults are all very talented with singing, dancing, chanting, and acting. They provide excellent support to the performers in the leading roles.
Julian Alvarez has a strong opera voice making him ideal in the role of Magaldi.
Ryan K. Bailer is very convincing in his role of former Argentina President, Juan Perón. Strong singing and acting make him very believable. His stage chemistry with Julia Estrada make them a convincing couple, highlighted in the musically powerful, "I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You."
Marlena Lopez Hilderley provides a moving performance as the mistress, in her number, "Another Suitcase in Another Hall." The performance helps shine light on the pain experienced by so many people who have their hearts broken by celebrities who couldn't care less about them.
Angel Lozada steals the show, taking command of the stage, as Che who serves primarily as a singing narrator who makes some overt and direct political statements towards and about the Perón family and legacy, generally voicing strong disapproval of their impact on Argentina and its people. Angel Lozada's remarkable stage presence, acting, singing, and clear articulation really bring Che to life, as Che comes across as the most likeable character in the show.
While it is questionable how much of the story is true and how much is rooted in information propagated by faulty media or poetic license taken by Tim Rice, the central messages remain positive, not to place our hopes and dreams in a mere mortal human being who we don't even know personally, and not to try to achieve our goals through immoral means. Those are good and relevant lessons for modern America. So many people place our hope in politicians to make our lives better, when we should instead trust God and follow His ways for the best life possible.
I highly recommend EVITA at ACT of Connecticut in Ridgefield, CT. EVITA is scheduled to continue to run through Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. For times and tickets, please go to Tickets. The ACT of Connecticut has kept its promise of yet another Broadway quality show. Don't keep your distance, but come to Ridgefield to see EVITA!