BWW Review: Lake Worth Playhouse's EVITA Missteps, but Finds Waltz for Eva and Che
There's a lot to be said about Andrew Lloyd Webber's shows; infamously, you love or hate a Webber show. Evita is an early Webber staple, chronicling the rise and fall of Argentinean Madonna Eva Peron. First-time director Erin Pittleman has taken the rock musical to the mainstage of the Lake Worth Playhouse, and despite some awkward staging and jagged transitions, the performances of her biggest players keeps the production rolling.
Pittleman chose a large show as her first, with over thirty cast members listed, and Webber's score no small feat. The cast size seems to overwhelm the stage at times, and some group numbers feel too packed. Solos and duets are the highlight, as her casting of main characters was impeccable, always leaving strong performances throughout.
Standing in the spotlight is Kelly DiLorenzo's Eva Peron, a political icon with innocence and grace, yet the haunting voice of an angelic choir. Her allure washes over all, as she takes each character she meets like the next rung of a ladder, climbing her way until she stands as a goddess. Her performance is overflowing, and her numbers always hold the air taut- mostly notably her performance of the classic 'Don't Cry for Me, Argentina' towards the second act's opening.
Not to be outdone is Chris Teixeira's Che (yes, Guevara) as the antagonizing, devil's advocate radical. Narrating through opposition, much like Webber's earlier Jesus Christ Superstar, Teixiera's Che is Pittleman's set- every bit of Evita's action seems to revolve around his anger, a wise choice when his acting is such a pillar of fury. His eventual showdown with DiLorenzo, philosophically that is, in 'Waltz for Eva and Che' is the show's height, a tension that cannot be matched.
The show found support in minor players, such as the commandeering Juan Peron, played by Richard Forbes. Forbes gives DiLorenzo a powerful man to work off of, something she needed after her parade of men. His voice blends well with hers, and they balance out the second half of the first act well. Hiding after their meeting, in a scene so short you can blink and miss it (blame Webber), is Alex Garcia as a nameless mistress. Her song, 'Another Suitcase in Another Hall', is one of the production's most notable numbers, both tragic and beautiful (a foreshadowing to Eva's demise). Garcia's voice and performance is a reflection of many discarded stories, but hers will not go unnoticed.
The technical aspects of production felt well planned, although not always well utilized. The set, designed by Cindi Taylor, looked gorgeous when freestanding, though the flat colors clashed with Scotty Fusion's lighting to cast huge, overbearing shadows behind performers in dance sequences. The technical designs all seemed solid, but on occasion, ran into each other.
While Evita may not be the strongest show Lake Worth Playhouse has ever offered, it's certainly a rarity to enjoy. The ceaseless strength of Teixeira and DiLorenzo offer a show sure to be surprisingly good for you, and although there are mistakes in the amateur production, it never slows the gears of Webber's historical drama.
Evita plays January 19th-February 5th at the Lake Worth Playhouse. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.