Eva Peron, for all her imperfections, is one of the most beloved figures in Argentinean history. Beginning her life in the slums of Argentina, she would eventually become an actress and, then, Argentina’s much-talked-about first lady. Her simultaneously tragic and uplifting story has been told time and time again, yet DPAC’s production, directed by Michael Grandage and choreographed by Rob Ashford, still manages to put a new spin on it. In the first new Broadway production of the play in over thirty years, this version provides even more insight into Evita’s (as Peron is known) fascinating life.
The production begins at the end—with an announcement of Evita’s untimely death. As the curtain slowly rises, on-stage mourners are seen holding candles and swaying, their images juxtaposed with grainy footage of the real-life crowds of mourners who lined the streets of Argentina after Evita’s death. Che (Josh Young), the everyman who will serve as both narrator and Evita’s “inner-voice” throughout the rest of the production, is among the mourners and notes the happenings with a beautifully delivered rendition of “Oh, What a Circus.”
Then, the story travels back in time, to a time when Evita was just a hopeless “wannabe,” trailing after nightclub singers in a desperate attempt to become someone. The production quickly sees her through an unending cascade of men until finally, she meets Peron (Sean MacLaughlin), the man who will eventually become her husband, as well as the president, and who will forever change the course of her life.
The production is fast-paced—a flurry of movement and bright costumes up until the moment when Evita throws out Peron’s mistress (Krystina Alabado). When Alabado takes the stage, dressed in a white gown that brings out her vulnerable beauty, her quiet energy brings a softness to the production, as does her gorgeous version of “Another Suitcase in Another Hall.” Her short-lived performance is a major show highlight, and she even manages to upstage Caroline Bowman’s “Evita,” quite a difficult thing to do given Bowman’s charm and steady grasp of her character’s dual nature. It must be said, however, that Young does some “upstaging” of his own, exuding charm during his moments onstage, nailing his musical numbers, and instantly endearing his character to the audience.
After Alabado’s show-stealing performance, the production resumes its lightning-quick pace, taking viewers of the second act along for the ride on Evita’s rise to fame, a rise which is perfectly captured by the energetic performance of “High Flying, Adored,” delivered powerfully by Bowman and Young.
Similarly catchy songs, large-scale choreography, and dazzling costumes make up the rest of the second act, but what is perhaps most intriguing here is the way in which the production takes a scrutinizing look at Evita. Instead of making her out to be a hero, the play points out her ulterior motives and inner struggles, leaving viewers to make their own decisions about the kind of person she was.
Whatever decision they ultimately come to, audience members are sure to enjoy this powerful, engaging musical drama that sheds light on one of Argentina’s most celebrated and misunderstood public figures.
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents EVITA at 8 p.m. March 14, 2 and 8 p.m. March 15, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. March 16 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco District.
TICKETS: $42.75-$121.75 (including fees).
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/844915.
VIDEO PREVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0Vc3_E1r30.
THE TOUR CAST: http://www.evitaonbroadway.com/cast.html.
THE TOUR CREATIVE TEAM: http://www.evitaonbroadway.com/creative.html.
SUNTRUST BROADWAY SERIES: http://www.dpacnc.com/suntrust-broadway-series-2014-15.
Maria Eva Duarte de Perón, a.k.a. “Evita” (First Lady of Argentina, 1919-52): http://www.evitaperon.org/ (Eva Perón Historical Research Foundation) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eva_Peron (Wikipedia).
Evita (1976 concept album and 1978 West End, 1979 Broadway musical, and 2012 Broadway revival): http://www.andrewlloydwebber.com/shows/?show=Evita (Andrew Lloyd Webber), http://www.timrice.co.uk/evita.html (Tim Rice), http://www.reallyuseful.com/shows/evita/ (Really Useful Group page), http://www.evitaonbroadway.com/ (2012-13 Broadway revival), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=3400 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evita_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
Study Guide: http://www.evitaonbroadway.com/img/Evita-Study-Guide.pdf (2012-13 Broadway revival).
Evita (1996 film): http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/300915/Evita/ (TCM Movie Database), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116250/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evita_%28film%29 (Wikipedia).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.