Lyrics by Tim Rice
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Directed by Nick DeGruccio
Musical Direction by Michael Raabe and Josh Ceballos
Choreography by Kim Ball
Starring Yael Reich, Dan Domenech and Rodrigo Ignacio Cruz
Orlando Shakes, Orlando, FL
No mere hurricane can stop a true pop star like Evita Peróne (Reich). Yeah, the chandeliers weren’t hung with care and the previews were blown away, but the show must go on and this one did open one time and in tune. We begin with Evita’s death and funeral, and once that little bit of downer is exorcized its flash back time to the good stuff. Evita came from the sticks and used a flamenco dancer AgustÃn (Victor Souffrant) to get her to the big city. Once in Buenos Aires she quickly claws her way to the top. Picking up with Juan Peróne (Cruz) was a gamble that payed off; he won the high stakes game of musical chairs and soon she was the first lady of Argentina. Did they love each other? Perhaps, but love is nothing when celebrity looms. And since this is South America, a revolution is always brewing, and thus we have Che Guevara (Domenech ) narrating and hoping for a people’s revolution. That’s the most popular type of revolution down south, they do them well but always end up with a generalissimo with mirrored shades and chest full of glitter. If nothing else, Evita looked and sounded great up on the balcony.
Che circulates in his green fatigues as Peróne and his officer go for the Dark glasses and excessive medals look. Domenech is everywhere and nearly always on stage, and as he sings us the events, he seems to genuinely think This Time It Will Be different. It’s not, of course, and in the clever “Art of the Possible” we have musical chairs minuet version of the carnage of political assassinations. Che also gave up “Oh, What A Circus” and “And the Money Kept Rolling In.” Reich’s Eva also gets her share of good songs, of course with “Goodnight and Thank You” and Buenos Aries. Peron always seemed over shadowed by his wife, and his best efforts went to “She is a Diamond.” Some people have time to sing, and some others must run the dictatorship.
While the show was technically unfinished, I had no complaints about the production quality. There’s a live orchestra upstage on the balcony that sounds full and forceful. The sound came through loud, clear and well balanced, and the simple but spectacular stage was always packed with action. The choice to do a show about a charismatic if unofficial leader is provocative, and the internal battles for power at least suggest lawful evil can triumph over Chaotic evil. Evita puts a face of glamour on the wobbly state of Argentina, and if you can’t unite behind party, at least you can unite behind a pop star. And while Evita’s husband and his fellow generals present a facade of honor, they are neat if venial. They might assassinate you, but they cleaned up the blood when they were done. Perhaps that still we can hope for these days.