BWW Review: EVITA Thrills Audiences on Nights of a Thousand Stars at Diamond Head Theatre

BWW Review: EVITA Thrills Audiences on Nights of a Thousand Stars at Diamond Head Theatre

I have always admired Maria Eva Duarte de Perón, the first lady of Argentina, who fought for women's suffrage and improving the lives of the poor. She was Minister of Health and Minister of Labor at the same time, which gave her tremendous power to effect reform in The Argentine. I knew about Evita (the human) long before the Andrew Lloyd Webber blockbuster appeared in London's West End in 1978, because I used to read the little "On This Day" blurbs in the newspapers.

I used to keep track of celebrities who shared my May 7th birthday, and Eva Perón is one of them. Her rise from obscurity fascinated me, and her irrepressible drive impressed me to no end. Usually, we hear of her saintliness, not her tactics to get what she wanted. There used to be a large English exclave in Buenos Aires; Eva called them "The Oligarchs" and the Peróns went out of the way to make the English "disappear." Some of my relatives still live in the Buenos Aires area; there is a Beazley street in Buenos Aires named after a relative in the Patrician Park neighborhood.

Beazley Street intersects with Albert Einstein Street; Albert Einstein lived in Buenos Aires in what is now the Australian embassy from March 25 to April 23, 1925 when the building was the home of German businessman, Bruno Waßerman. Beazley Street also intersects with Romero Street. Francis's sister, Marie Antoinette Beazley married Emilio Romero. The Romero family of Buenos Aires are prolific authors and fine artists. The Beazley family, Romero family and Albert Einstein were highly respected in Buenos Aires. But no one was worshiped like Evita.

Evita used United Airlines' tactics when it came to getting what she wanted. She had no problem sending thugs with badges to rough up anyone who disobeyed her. Yet, at the same time, she had immeasurable compassion for the poor. Her marriage to dictator Juan Perón is one of the great romances of the 20th century. Whenever I can see EVITA, whether it be in London, Broadway or thousands of miles across the ocean, I make every effort to pay homage to this fascinating woman.

Now on stage at Diamond Head Theatre in Honolulu is the magnificent musical EVITA by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. But before I get anyone's hopes up, unless you got your tickets months ago, you can't get a ticket without some sort of miracle that someone will cancel. I checked several weeks ago, and every single seat for every single performance was sold out in advance. These are high-demand tickets, and everyone wants to attend this show. I just happened to luck out because I use a wheelchair and I brought my own "seat." The theatre holds back handicap spots as courtesy to disabled people; also every now and then someone will cancel so the seats can be released for sale.

EVITA at the Diamond Head Theatre is pure magic. If you could only see what director John Rampage did to bring this show to life. He is a genius, I tell you. He is a 49-time Po'okela Award Winner for Excellence in the Theatre, recipient of the Hawaii State Theatre Council 2006 Pierre Bowman Award and the 2015 NSAL Medallion of Excellence Award. Karen G Wolfe designed costumes that are stunning.

Tears came to my eyes as Jody Bill Bachler, starring as Eva Perón, appeared in her radiant white sequined gown. She plays the role with finesse and grace. Her voice is moving, and is a star in every sense of the word. When Drew Niles, starring as Che, joins Bachler, it's electrifying. Niles has the most amazing voice and meticulously perfect pitch as he performs the Argentine skeptic with ire and spleen. Eli K. M. Foster wows us as Juan Perón; he is a veteran actor of legitimate stage, TV and film. Eli is also an American Indian Historian and retired Army Paratrooper. The trio have a chemistry that makes EVITA explode like dynamite.

In some productions, the character starring as Eva will sing "Another Suitcase In Another Hall" but at the Diamond Head Theatre production, it goes to Natalie Borsky, age sixteen, who portrays "Piranha." Colonel Perón (the real human) used to pork underage girls, and he was living with a teenager he passed off as his daughter. The piranha is a deadly fish known to attack humans, and no one was believed to be able to come between this teenager and Colonel Perón; that's how the teen earned her nick name. Eva Duarte sent piranhas fleeing for their lives. In this show, Natalie Borsky nails the role and song perfectly!

I always find the sleazy, tacky crooner Agustin Magaldi's character remarkable, and Diamond Head Theatre found this adorable and baby faced Kiwi named David Treacher to perform "On This Night Of a Thousand Stars." He's too cute to play a sleaze ball, but they worked their magic he pulled it off. He found the right moves, the cocky walk, and the pompous hair to play a convincible womanizing Magaldi. Of course, the real Augustin Magaldi was nothing like the one portrayed in the story; he was mild-mannered, sweet, adorable, cute, and sentimental. He died five years before the benefit concert mentioned in the musical, and there are no records of Magaldi performing in Eva's hometown of Junín in the year that Eva supposedly met him. Magaldi was therefore not the first man to be of use to Eva Duarte, but his slandered character certainly was of use to the musical.

Diamond Head Theatre is a cultural institution in the United States. Calling itself the Broadway of the Pacific, it is located on the slopes of Diamond Head in Honolulu, Hawaii. Opened in 1915, it is Hawaii's oldest performing arts center. For more information, kindly visit the theatre's web site https://www.diamondheadtheatre.com/

The magnificent cast:

Eva Peron - Jody Bill Bachler
Che - Drew Niles
Juan Peron - Eli Foster
Peron's Mistress/Act 2 Ensemble - Natalie Borsky
Agustin Magaldi/Act 2 Ensemble - David Treacher
Tango/Female Ensemble - Heather Taylor
Tango/Soldier/Male Ensemble - Cal T. Chester
Mama Duarte/Aristocrat/Female Ensemble - Trudi Melohn
Duarte Sister/Female Ensemble - Ronnie Allen Campman
Duarte Sister/Female Ensemble - Erisan Awaya
Duarte Sister/Female Ensemble - Valerie Ho
Duarte Brother/Soldier/Male Ensemble - Chev-Vaughn Lum
President/Soldier/Male Ensemble - Mo Radke
Officer/Soldier/Male Ensemble/Magaldi Understudy - KoDee Martin
Officer/Male Ensemble - Fedrico Biven
Officer/Male Ensemble - Byron Ono
Officer/Male Ensemble - Brian Jahnke
Soldier/Male Ensemble - Sean Ramsey
Soldier/Male Ensemble - Dan Connell
Soldier/Male Ensemble - Michael Stoudmire
Soldier/Male Ensemble - Steven Stanfill
Male Ensemble - Chance Ingalls
Aristocrat/Male Ensemble - Eriq James
Aristocrat/Tango Understudy/Che Understudy/Male Ensemble - Ari Dalbert
Aristocrat/Female Ensemble - Brittany Everage
Aristocrat/Mistress Understudy/Young Eva Peron/Female Ensemble - Mia Shelbourne
Eva's Maid/Female Ensemble - Leslie Detor
Female Ensemble - Gabriela Hutter
Male Ensemble - John Cummings
Children's Ensemble - Paul Garcia
Children's Ensemble - Hinano Kuzukawa
Children's Ensemble - Isabela Hutter
Children's Ensemble - Victoria Walker
Children's Ensemble - Jenelle Wong
Children's Ensemble - Sky Otake
Children's Ensemble - Greg Gilbertson
Children's Ensemble - Sean Walrod

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high res photos BWW Review: EVITA Thrills Audiences on Nights of a Thousand Stars at Diamond Head Theatre
EVITA Photo credit Brad Goda BWW Review: EVITA Thrills Audiences on Nights of a Thousand Stars at Diamond Head Theatre
EVITA Photo credit Brad Goda BWW Review: EVITA Thrills Audiences on Nights of a Thousand Stars at Diamond Head Theatre
EVITA Photo credit Brad Goda BWW Review: EVITA Thrills Audiences on Nights of a Thousand Stars at Diamond Head Theatre
EVITA Photo credit Brad Goda BWW Review: EVITA Thrills Audiences on Nights of a Thousand Stars at Diamond Head Theatre
EVITA Photo credit Brad Goda BWW Review: EVITA Thrills Audiences on Nights of a Thousand Stars at Diamond Head Theatre
EVITA Photo credit Brad Goda BWW Review: EVITA Thrills Audiences on Nights of a Thousand Stars at Diamond Head Theatre
EVITA Photo credit Brad Goda BWW Review: EVITA Thrills Audiences on Nights of a Thousand Stars at Diamond Head Theatre
EVITA Photo credit Brad Goda BWW Review: EVITA Thrills Audiences on Nights of a Thousand Stars at Diamond Head Theatre
EVITA Photo credit Brad Goda

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