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Review: EVITA Wins Hearts & Raises the Bar at SKYLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE

Review: EVITA Wins Hearts & Raises the Bar at SKYLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE

A musical spectacle that's guaranteed to thrill

The good news: Evita at Skylight Music Theatre is a stunner that's not to be missed. The bad news: Milwaukee-area theater fans only have until February 19th to catch it on stage. With its uniformly stellar cast, dazzling choreography (Gustavo Zajac, who also directs), gorgeous costuming (Kristina Sneshkoff), live orchestra (David Bonofiglio as Music Director), and iconic music (Webber & Rice), this 1978 Tony Award-winning musical remains praiseworthy even after 45 years.

Evita follows the meteoric rise of Eva Duarte from commoner to actress to wife of Argentine President Juan Perón in 1946, which made her the most powerful woman in Latin America. An acute understanding of Argentina's 20th century history isn't a prerequisite for enjoying Evita, but if you do want to brush up, snag a Skylight audience guide before the show for a timeline of events. Novices to this corner of history may come away from the show with a keen interest to learn more, which is a sign of a successful bit of theater.

Now on to the show. Evita opens with a tango that will blow you away. The entrancing Guillermina Quiroga, chosen by The New York Times
for Best Dance of 2015, partners with Mariano Logiudice, who has performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York. The pair are an exquisite force throughout, lending evocative movement to moments both fiery and tender. Act Two's "You Must Love Me" is breathtaking. Note that while Quiroga and Logiudice may be the dancing stars, the entire ensemble moves marvelously together. The choreography is entirely ravishing.

While the opening tango sets the bar mighty high, I'm elated to report that the principal cast matches this next-level quality in every way. We first meet the show's narrator and revolutionary, Che, played by Richard Bermudez. His performance quickly drops jaws to the floor. Frankly, I was shocked to learn that Bermudez has yet to perform on Broadway. I say "has yet to perform" because surely it's only a matter of time. From his incredible vocal range to his commanding demeanor, Bermudez is beyond exceptional. And swooning is all but guaranteed.

Matching Bermudez's range and fire is Milwaukee and Skylight favorite Rána Roman as Eva Duarte. It's an immense pleasure to see Roman featured once again at Skylight in a starring role that suits her voice, spunk, and depth to perfection. Many of Evita's songs are complicated and wordy with concurrant frenzied choreography. Roman more than nails it -- she shines from tip to toe. Whether coy and flirtatious, firm and unyielding, or with Eva's confidence cracking, Roman does it all with exceptional strength of both vocals and character.

Joining Roman is Andrew Varela, who is no stranger to Broadway or the Skylight. He has played such iconic roles as Les Miserables' Jean Valjean and Javert, and the Phantom of the Opera himself. He also played opposite Roman in Skylight's Kiss Me Kate. As Juan Perón, Varela's deep, booming voice fills the Cabot Theatre with richness and warmth. He plays the part of a schmoozing politician fantastically, at one point literally tangoing with his political opponents along his rise to power. Seeing Roman and Varela together again feels right.

Other standouts in the cast are Christian Feliciano as the tango singer Magaldi, whose clear voice and smarmy charm delight. Ashley Rodriguez is also remarkable in the small but significant part of Perón's Mistress. She gets the score's unique ballad "Another Suitcase in Another Hall," her sweet voice paired with Bermudez's for a duet that I can only describe as insanely pretty.

By the time this review goes live, time will already be running out to catch Evita at the Skylight Music Theatre. So don't delay. Find tickets at

Photo Credit: Mark Frohna

Photos: First Look at LITTLE WOMEN at First Stage Photo
First Stage’s Young Company is presenting LITTLE WOMEN, a modern-retelling of the classic novel by award-winning, contemporary playwright Kate Hamill, adapted from the novel by Louisa May Alcott. The play is directed by popular Milwaukee actor, director, and First Stage alum Karen Estrada. Check out photos here!

Milwaukees First Stage Cancels Select Performances Today Due To Inclement Weather Photo
Due to inclement weather, First Stage is canceling matinee performances of The Spongebob Musical for Young Audiences and Little Women on Saturday, March 25.

Milwaukees First Stage Raises Over $150,000 At 29th Annual Make Believe Ball Photo
On Saturday, March 4, 2023, First Stage hosted its 29th Annual Make Believe Ball at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center located in downtown Milwaukee.

Milwaukees First Stage to Hold Auditions for 2023/24 Season Photo
Young people ages 8 - 18 are eligible to audition for First Stage's Young Performer roles throughout its season.

From This Author - Kelsey Lawler

  Kelsey Lawler is a copywriter by day and zealot for local theater by night. She earned her BA in Writing Intensive English from Marquette University in 2009, and has been working as an edito... (read more about this author)

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