Sexy, suave, and just a little unhinged, Eva Péron certainly had a crazy life, and what better way to tell this story than though the music of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber? Though a book may have given you the gritty details of Argentina’s Evita, the musical does well in showing who Eva Péron was, both good and bad. Guided by skeptical and savvy narrator Ché, the audience follows Evita as she charms, and often sleeps, her way to the top of the food chain, only to succumb to a sickness that ultimately leads to her untimely death.
The music in Evita is bombastic, alternating between sultry samba and some seriously catchy rock, and while fun, the frequent fast-paced numbers didn’t give the audience much time to grab a breath in between. That being said, the ensemble put out sound that was both beautiful and gripping, weaving under and around the main line of the song gracefully. Caroline Bowman excels as Eva, handling the challenging minefield of a score as if it were a Kindergarten recital, Josh Young, while simultaneously maintaining an air of skepticism and hope, is electrifying as Ché, and Sean MacLaughlin devastatingly charming and ruthless as Juan Péron. The cast was nothing short of incredible, and certainly deserves a medal for fielding the challenging material of Evita.
The set and lighting were quite simply beautiful. It was elegant and simple, and was as exquisite as the cast. In fact all of the elements of the show were top notch, but the show itself is one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen. In the moment, it reads well and is incredibly entertaining, but if you lose focus for a split second, you’ll be more lost than a blind rat in a maze. Many of the moments that should be highlighted were played down, and seemingly trivial moments were given full company numbers with intricate dance routines and confetti guns.
However, the biggest issue I had with the show was the ending.After Eva’s funeral (Spoiler alert: she dies.), Ché discusses her burial plans and the intention of building a monument in her honor. He ends with something along the lines of, “Only the pedestal was completed, and then Eva’s body disappeared for 17 years…” Then blackout. Curtain. End of show. After a bit of research, I learned that shortly after Evita died, there was a military coup that forced Juan Péron to flee the country, unwillingly leaving his second wife’s preserved corpse for the new government to deal with as they saw fit. Without this research, I was left completely in the dark and utterly unsatisfied. Kudos for making me learn actual information with historical value, but I wish the show would have ended in way that made it seem like they were celebrating and teaching about a powerful, important female in history and less like they were planning on making Evita 2: The Traffic Patterns of Argentina’s Beloved Undead First Lady.