Theater Review - Evita (NY)

Ricky Martin is bringing them in at “Evita!”

 

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score for “Evita” is really gorgeous. Although the musical is most-often associated with the plaintive “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” there are many more. The excellent Company opens with “Requiem,” then the beautiful songs tumble out. There is the fast-paced, “Buenos Aires,” an amusing “Goodnight and Thank You,” the melodic “The Art of the Possible,” the sensual,“I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You,” the spirited “A New Argentina” and the lyrical “High Flying Adored.”

 

Except for Elena Roger as Eva Duarte Peron, the very young woman who rose from poverty to become the charismatic First Lady of Argentina, the show is sung beautifully by Michael Cerveris, the best Peron I’ve ever heard and seen, and Ricky Martin, who is handsome, fun and sexy as Che. Also wonderful in his part is Max Von Essen as Magaldi, the night club singer who intones the number “Oh This Night of a Thousand Stars.”

 

“Evita” is directed by Michael Grandage with a formality not used in the original.  The elegant set and costume design by Christopher Oram, with Neil Austin’s spot lighting and Richard Mawbey’s very important Wig and Hair design, all contribute to a very good-looking production. Perhaps the most dazzling feature is Rob Ashford’s choreography that uses stylized versions of Tango and Waltz to tell the story.

 

And what a story it is.  When Eva, age 17 in 1943, and Peron hook up, fireworks begin. Eva is very modern in her approach to women and makes sure they get the vote. While acquiring jewels, she helps the poor and downtrodden. There are still to this day charities in her name. When I was a child her picture was on every magazine cover. Her life was cut short at the age of 33 from terminal cancer. Elena Roger, a tiny woman, almost too small for the role, works hard, but her voice in the upper register is thin as air, unpleasant and over-miked. It is, as the King of Siam used to say, “a puzzlement!”

 

“Evita”at the Marquis Theatre on Broadway.

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