Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Theater Review: EVITA

Filed under: Performing Arts — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 01:28


The Broadway touring production based on the acclaimed 2012 revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s classic musical EVITA makes its way to Orlando and the Bob Carr Center for the Performing Arts today through Sunday. And this EVITA is absolutely AMAZING! Rarely does a touring production of a Broadway show have the quality of what is seen in its original incarnation in New York. And it’s an even more rare feat for a touring production to eclipse the quality of its Broadway parent. I’m not sure I have ever experienced that before–until now! THIS touring production of EVITA does just that! I saw this show in NYC a few months into its run. To be able to see Ricky Martin play Che was pretty cool. He did a great job and was fun to watch on stage, probably more because of his fame and the fact that he’s a popstar icon rather than his true talent as a musical actor. However, Elena Roger, who played the title role in that production, absolutely butchered the show. Her voice had a horrific screeching quality that absolutely devastated my admiration for the story and music that grew from my love of Alan Parker’s 1996 award winning motion picture starring Madonna (who gave a rare superb performance that earned her the Golden Globe for Best Actress) and Antonio Banderas.

In this production, Caroline Bowman takes the lead as Eva Peron. Her voice is absolutely gorgeous. She sings with a very clear enunciation of the lyrics and possesses a powerful range and dynamic that catapults the character into its both hated and loved dichotomy beautifully. She is also a great actor who nails this role all the way from her young 15 year-old impoverished ghetto roots to her rise to power and ultimately untimely demise. And while normally one standout performance punctuates a production, here, Bowman is joined by the equally talented Josh Young (Che), Sean MacLaughlin (Juan Peron), and Christopher Johnstone (Magaldi). Sorry Ricky, but Young absolutely hits a home run with his performance as the show’s quintessential narrator. He conveys the excitement of Eva’s rise to stardom and the disappointment of her Robin Hood approach to social justice perfectly; and his voice is chill-inducingly gorgeous. Not surprisingly, Young was nominated for a Tony Award in 2012 for his portrayal of Judas in the Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar.

MacLaughlin, who I originally thought was a little young to play the infamous and controversial dictator, proved me wrong quickly. He is superb. He knows the precise vocal inflections to exhibit Peron’s commanding presence; and yet he is so talented and capable as a performer that he knows how to sing melodically when the score demands it. The entire ensemble here is also absolutely phenomenal. The staging, lighting, sets, choreography, and every other aspect essential to a premium production is absolutely perfected in this production of EVITA. It really is THAT good! To be honest, I disliked the Broadway version of this show so much that I wasn’t looking forward to it one bit when I saw it was part of the 2013-2014 Broadway series. I was sure that to make it more like its Broadway originator, the role of Eva would most likely be played by another overbearing singer with an accent so thick that it butchered the beautifully lush and gorgeous music of the show. However, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. This show is hands down my favorite show of this season by far. And although I absolutely loved the original production of GHOST The Musical on Broadway, with only a non-equity production of the show remaining in the series, EVITA will mostly likely remain that favorite. Unlike the tired and horrible show that Roger ruined on Broadway, this touring production is downright  perfect in every way imaginable. If you miss this show, you will really regret it! So, don’t miss it! Purchase a ticket by visiting the tour’s Web site at: http://www.evitaonbroadway.com/tour.html.

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