BWW Reviews: EVITA at the Paramount Has Its Moments, Even for a Non-Fan
I've never particularly warmed to Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Evita". Like most of his shows it just feels like a lot of flash and very little substance. So I can't really come at this production from the point of view of a fan of the show but I can point out some truly stirring performances within it.
It's a tumultuous ride (or at least it wants to be, but I digress) for young Evita (Caroline Bowman) as she goes from a dreamer of a girl to a radio star to one of the most powerful women of her time when she marries Juan Peron (Sean MacLaughlin), a highly regarded soldier who is elected President of Argentina. But as the show asserts her fame and iconic status is fraught with bad decisions and misplaced idolatry as pointed out by the ever present dream-like figure of Che (Josh Young).
Whether or not the show's tale is historically accurate has long been a point of contention as many feel the show is slighted towards an anti-Peron sentimentality. But the accuracy of it is never what has bothered me but more-over the repetitive nature of the score (which sounds an awful lot like Webber's "Jesus Christ Superstar") and its inability to focus on what story it's trying to tell. Even one of its most iconic numbers "Another Suitcase in Another Hall", while gorgeously sung by Krystina Alabado (who is one of the shining moments of the show), feels out of place in the telling of the story of Evita as we're now telling the story of one of Peron's mistresses.
But even as much as I can't appreciate the show I can appreciate the talented cast performing it. The ensemble is incredible and obviously working their butts off on stage. Bowman has a killer voice but lacked some of the "star quality" that would have made her feel more iconic. And there was little to no chemistry with MacLaughlin who also seemed to be going through the motions. But then there was Josh Young as Che who completely nailed every moment of his stage time (which thankfully there is a lot). From the get go he was charismatic and totally immersed in the telling of the story. His voice is a gift from the theater Gods and he knows how to use it particularly during "High Flying Adored" which gave me chills. I credit Young and Alabado for salvaging what could have been a "meh" or even painful evening at the theater for me.
But then, that's from a non-fan of the show. If you're one of the many musical theater geeks out there who love this show, while this geek can't join you in that sentiment, I can recognize that this is a very solid production with some outstanding moments. So for you, this show could be an absolute winner. For me, well a solid production with some outstanding moments is the best I can hope for from a Webber show.
"Evita" plays at the Paramount Theater through January 5th. For tickets or information visit the Seattle Theatre Group website at www.stgpresents.org.