BWW Review: EVITA at Westport Country Playhouse

BWW Review: EVITA at Westport Country Playhouse

On Wednesday, February 7, I had the pleasure of seeing a wonderful performance of EVITA at the Westport Country Playhouse, in Westport, CT. This was my first time in this theater, and my first time seeing EVITA. I was tremendously impressed with both. This musical, featuring music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice was directed by Connor Deane, with music direction by J. Scott Handley.

The set features a mostly open stage, but with walls comprised of rectangles in the back and sides that became see-through when the lights hit them in the intended manner. Chandeliers move up and down above the stage. The curtains, lighting, and other effects are employed in a way that enhances the quality of the production.

The story is primarily told through the music, with very few spoken lines. The music sets the mood, and provides an excellent modality of conveying the message of the story. The ten piece orchestra is amazing, accompanying the stellar singing in a way that complements all the singers' voices.

The character Che, serves as the narrator, and is stunningly brought to life by the very talented actor Yurel Echezarreta who takes command of the stage with all his appearances, providing wonderful singing with such a strong stage presence. Che comes across as the most likeable character in the show.

The story is based on the true story of Juan Perón, former President of Argentina, and his rise to power, aided by his wife, Eva Perón. While the acting and singing from Kyle Barisich as Juan Perón and Samantha Pauly as Eva Perón were amazing and had the entire audience mesmerized, the characters themselves were deliberately and brilliantly portrayed as less likeable.

Eva considered herself to be the face of Argentina, to the world. As someone whose acting helped her to rise in class (economically speaking, not morally speaking), she would be a relatable image for the middle class desiring to rise to economic prosperity, thus an essential component to Juan Perón's political strategy. Eva, however, became very arrogant, almost to the point of self-deification. Her loose morals of her youth and overall persona made her a dangerous icon and negative role model to people who lacked a relationship with God, and therefore were seeking a savior apart from Jesus. It is fascinating how we see the same dynamics at play, in modern American society. Some celebrities started with humble beginnings, but rose to fame through pernicious means. They then became icons and heroes to others looking to escape that poverty, even though these celebrities make lifestyle and worldview choices that are atrocious examples to their fan base.

Julia Vitale and Julian Alvarez also provide strong performances, as do the rest of the ensemble that is split into the two groups of ages fourteen and over, and ages thirteen and under. The local talent shines among the professional Broadway actors. These local students from the Broadway Musical Academy show that they are learning excellent stage skills. This local talent helps show promise that we can look forward to more excellent shows at the Westport Country Playhouse, for years to come.

I highly recommend EVITA, which is scheduled to continue to run at the Westport Country Playhouse on Thursday, February 8 at 7:30 PM, Friday, February 9 at 8:00 PM, and Saturday, February 10 at both 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM. For tickets, please go to http://www.westportplayhouse.org/.


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From This Author Sean Fallon

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