BWW Review: EVITA at Casa Mañana

BWW Review: EVITA at Casa Mañana
Dee Roscioli and the cast of EVITA
Photo by Calvin Scott Roberts

With a catalog full of hits like JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT and CATS, Andrew Lloyd Webber's famous musicals seem to polarize musical theatre fans into those who either love him or those who feel like he is a no-substance sellout. And, although I occasionally find his lyrics a tad trite, I'm a self-confessed sucker for larger-than-life females with big, sassy vibrato. So, despite a few structural defects, the thrilling score of EVITA is an epic win. And, with Casa's talented team at the helm, the current production packs a whole lot of punch.

EVITA is a 2.5-hour rock opera that offers a glimpse into the life of Eva Duarte and her rise to power as she marries political leader Juan Peron and becomes First Lady of Argentina. Having grown up poor with an eye on fame and fortune, Eva makes no apologies to the many men she takes advantage of while climbing her way to the top. The show begins and ends with her death, with lots of powerful high notes in between.

As always anticipated, Casa Mañana has outsourced the major roles to fine New York-based actors. The trio that leads the show is Dee Roscioli (Eva Peron), Enrique Acevedo (Juan Peron) and Michael Hunsaker as Che, who serves as both narrator and investigator, Eva's only skeptic among the adoring crowds. All three actors deliver expertly sung performances that are on par with Casa's track record. It's not easy to find sympathy for Roscioli's icy Eva, but as the character's health deteriorates late in the show, the audience starts to see a chink in her armor and Roscioli's nuanced performance takes on an extra shine. Per the text, the only character fully worthy of empathy is the unnamed Mistress, who has only one brief song to fully convey her story arc. Fortunately, in the hands of former Casa Kid (and current NYC actress) Molly Franco, the pitch-perfect performance leaves a lasting impression.

Richard Stafford has adapted the original Broadway direction and choreography (by Hal Prince and Larry Fuller, respectively), and the result is well executed by the slick ensemble. Musical director Stan Tucker allows the challenging score to remain exciting without any unwelcome shouting through the show's infinitely high notes. Michael Sabourin's scenery, Samuel Rushen's lighting, and Tammy Spencer's costumes perfectly set the stage for Argentina circa 1934-1952.

While this EVITA production may not necessarily attempt to enhance Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's material, it's a well-polished production with top-notch talent across the board. EVITA runs though this Sunday, November 12th. Tickets and more information can be found at www.CasaManana.org.


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From This Author Kyle Christopher West

Kyle Christopher West Kyle Christopher West is obsessed with the arts. Growing up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Kyle trained as a gymnast and dancer where he performed across (read more...)

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