Review Roundup: Dee Roscioli and Paulo Szot in EVITA at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Review Roundup: Dee Roscioli and Paulo Szot in EVITA at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's highly anticipated production of Evita will open with record-breaking ticket sales at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pa.

Advance ticket sales exceed 90% of the total 10,410-seat capacity for all 22 performances. The record-breaking sales now exceed the sales to date for the prior two seasons' musicals: West Side Story and Les Misérables.

"Because our mission is to reach the widest possible audience, filling our theatres with patrons is a wonderful thing," says Patrick Mulcahy, producing artistic director. "We hope our patrons get tickets in time so they will not miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (as I did with the original cast of Hamilton)."

The production features a cast of 40, the largest ever at PSF.

Leading the cast is Broadway veteran Dee Roscioli as Eva Peron, an extraordinary woman who rose from dismal poverty in rural Argentina to become the First Lady by the age of 27. Roscioli is best known for her long run as Elphaba on Broadway, and in the Chicago, San Francisco, and national touring productions of the hit musical Wicked. She has the distinction of playing the role in more performances in North America than any other actress. She was last seen at PSF as Mrs. Lovett in the 2012 production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

World-renowned baritone and Tony Award winner Paulo Szot will play Eva's husband, Argentinian military leader Colonel Juan Domingo Perón. Szot has appeared with numerous prestigious opera companies throughout Europe, the United States, and his native Brazil. In 2008 he won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, the Drama Desk, the Outer Critics Circle Award, and the Theatre World Award for his portrayal of Emile De Becque in the Broadway revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific at Lincoln Center Theater.

Dan Domenech will play Che, a member of the public who narrates the story with an obvious disdain for Eva's rise to power. Domenech is best known for starring in the role of Drew in the Broadway musical Rock of Ages and for his work on the Off-Broadway cult hit Heathers: the Musical. He's appeared on Fox television's Gotham and had a recurring role on the hit television series Glee.

Let's see what the critics have to say!

DC Metro Theatre Arts (Deb Miller): Among the most comical moments of the show are Che's feigned Italian and French accents of the Europeans reacting to Evita's "Rainbow Tour." The many musical highlights include the ebullient "Buenos Aires," performed by Eva with Che and company. Other noteworthy numbers are "Another Suitcase in Another Hall," poignantly sung by Jerusha Cavazos as Perón's Mistress, dismissed and replaced by Evita; and the adoring hymn to "Santa Evita" by the children and mourners at her funeral. Stephen Casey's ambitious choreography is in tune with the varied musical genres, with appropriately lively and engaging Latin dances by the whole ensemble. There were, however, shaky moments on opening night in the execution of the featured couple's tango and some out-of-synch maneuvers in the recurrent military marches. (Jim Rutter): More important, listen. Nathan Diehl's music direction leads a 15-piece orchestra through Andrew Lloyd Webber's motif-laden score. Roscioli's vocals display an early sweetness as the teenage Eva Duarte. That hardens alongside her careerist and political ambition and then dissolves tenderly as she approaches immortality. Glee star Domenech contributes a honeyed tenor, and Szot powers his verses with an operatic baritone tinged with a whisper of a South American accent that anchors the gravity of his role in history. Hear Jerusha Cavazos dazzle in her lone number as Perón's former mistress ("Another Suitcase in Another Hall").

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