BWW Review: EVITA at Theatre Frisco
EVITA is the rags-to-riches story of Eva Duarte, the illegitimate Argentine actress with a desperate thirst for climbing to the top, who eventually finds herself as wife to Argentinian politician Juan Perón. At the time of her death in 1952, she was a mere 33 years old but, as the musical shows, she lived a lot of life. The show chronicles not only her rising to the top of Buenos Aires, but the series of men she manipulated to get there.
In the titular role, local favorite Rebecca Paige is the glue the holds the show together. Her magnetic stage presence and tough-as-nails vocals elevate the production to palatable. She is supported by Aaron Gallagher as Che and Darret Hart as Juan Peron, both strong singers despite a lack of onstage chemistry with their leading lady. As Peron's young mistress, Emily-Kate Ivey provides one of the show's strongest moments, with her emotional rendition of "Another Suitcase in Another Hall". Madison Verre, listed only as Little Girl, also displays a lovely singing voice and a passionate connection to the sweet solo she delivers.
Theatre Frisco's production offers uneven levels of both talent and production values. While costumes (provided by Dallas Costume Shoppe) and hair and makeup artist Logan Coley Broker's wigs are beautifully designed and professionally constructed, the playing space is built of only a few poorly painted platforms covered in black fabric begging to be ironed. With a hardworking cast full of entry-level actors, EVITA's direction by Neale Whitmore and choreography by Kelly Holmes is an unfortunate balance of chaotic patterns and sparse staging. Music Director Shane Hurst and his off-stage orchestra seem to be in a consistent tug-of-war with the singing actors, providing further challenges to the already challenging musical.
Although Frisco Stage's production never reaches the high standards set by many of the other high caliber DFW theatres, they are to be commended for taking a leap from the small cast musicals and plays that they're more accustom to. As a stepping-stone for artists and musicians in training, Theatre Frisco offers an invaluable opportunity for gaining experience. Although tickets for EVITA are rumored to be sold out for remaining performances, information on the theatre's upcoming events can be found at www.TheatreFrisco.com