I have never been an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan. From Joseph to Jesus Christ Superstar, and Cats to The Phantom of the Opera, his style of musicals has never sat well with me. The idea of a sung-through musical (with the exception of a few spoken lines perhaps) bores me to death, and to me, feels more like a choral concert than a theatrical experience. Last night, I had my first ever encounter with Evita, and although I hate to admit it, it is by far my favorite Andrew Lloyd Webber musical I have seen. The national tour of Evita is performing in Minneapolis at the Orpheum Theater through February 2nd.
Evita tells the powerful story of Eva Perón, first lady of Argentina in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, who was greatly loved by her country. Complete with a variety of musical numbers including the enthrallingly flashy “Buenos Aires”, and the beautiful, showstopping “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”, this production was chalk full of some of the most talented singers I’ve ever heard. Caroline Bowman portrayed Eva Perón, and her performance was so captivating. The way she was able to sing so beautifully, even while doing complex dancing, was such a treat for the entire audience. Another highlighted performance would have to be given to Josh Young, who played the role of Ché, the narrator of the show. He had this gorgeous tenor voice that resonated so beautifully in the Orpheum Theatre, and gave me chills everytime he sang. Backed by an incredibly talented ensemble, the cast did an outstanding job together.
One aspect of the show that captured my attention was the lighting design. I normally don’t pay attention to things like lighting design, but it was hard not to focus on it during this production. The way they designed the lighting to shine through the windows on the spectacular set was so neat. After reading lighting designer Neil Austin’s biography in the Playbill, I thought to myself, “no wonder the lighting is so professionally done”!
Although I loved the performance by the stellar group of actors, I didn’t necessarily enjoy the show’s storyline itself. I found it to be slow and dragged out at times throughout the show, for example, the scenes where Eva and Magaldi were together. The slowness of these scenes led to me losing interest, which unfortunately led to me being confused at what had just happened. Another contributing factor to my confusion was the fact that I lose interest quite easily during sung-through musicals. I find it easier to pay attention when musical numbers and dialogue work together to create the show. Despite the fact that I didn’t care too much for the story of the show, the performers pulled through and put on such a fabulous performance, that it almost didn’t matter whether or not I liked the story!
Overall, I would recommend this show to anyone who would enjoy a great performance by some seriously talented actors and actresses. I may not care too much for Andrew Lloyd Webber, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the show. It’s definitely a musical to go check out; you may not see talent like this for a while!