NY1 Theater Review: "Evita"
"Evita", the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical about Argentina's legendary first lady, Eva Peron, has returned to Broadway starring international pop star Ricky Martin in the role of Che. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.
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"Evita" ranks among the theatre's most difficult and rewarding musicals to produce. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's lush music is not only vocally challenging, it's entirely sung through, requiring cords of steel...and the story of the enigmatic Evita gives us no one to root for. Yet, when staged well, as British director Michael Grandage has done, the show can be as seductive as Eva Peron herself.
The cult of Evita, Argentina's first lady who died in 1952 at age 33, continues to this day. Depending on your source, she was either a calculating opportunist or a patron saint of Argentina's poor. The musical suggests both with the help of a narrator character named Che representing the cynical voice of the Argentine people.
The show takes us from Evita's teenage years latching on to a tango singer, then to Buenos Aires climbing from bed to bed, ultimately meeting Juan Peron and marriage. He becomes president and she eventually eclipses him in popularity.
The score sounds as irresistibly melodic as ever. And with Rob Ashford's red-hot tango-infused choreography, Grandage’s immaculate direction, seamlessly weaving story into song on that palatial setting makes for quite a spectacle.
Max Von Essen is a perfectly oily Magaldi. Michael Cerveris as Peron brings depth and even warmth to the dictator. Ricky Martin exceeds expectations. The pop star displays some credible stage chops as Che minus the cigar and hard revolutionary edge that made Mandy Patinkin’s turn so memorable. But the spotlight is brightest on Elena Roger who gives Evita tremendous dimension. And while she may lack Patti Lupone's vocal power, she more than makes up for it with a fiercely nuanced portrayal that reeks of authenticity.
Love the woman or hate her, Grandage’s impassioned production brings Evita to life in fine style.