This past Tuesday, Evita, the story of the former First Lady of Argentina, opened at the Orpheum. I walked into Evita knowing the lead sang a song that mentioned Argentina, but nothing else. After seeing it, I can easily say Evita has been my favorite show this year.
One of my favorite aspects of the show was the choreography, created by Chris Bailey and Rob Ashford. The choreography was very high energy and held much influence from tradition Argentinian dance, such as the tango. One of the aspects of the choreography that made it so impressive were the number of lifts, in between couples in the chorus and with Eva Perón. The staging of the choreography always fit the mood of the scene, with stiff and sharp movement during scenes with the military and with a slow and somber tango influenced dance during the opening scene and the mourning of Eva’s death. In addition the mood was set very well in this opening dance through a use of fog that created silhouettes.
Another very impressive aspect of the show was the talent of the performers, both actors and the orchestra. The show is nearly entirely song, and every song flowed so seamlessly into the next that often times it took me a minute to realize the song had changed. Two particularly strong performers were Eva Perón, played by Caroline Bowman, and Che, played by Josh Young. They were both incredibly strong singers and embodied their parts so fully that I occurs not imagine them being anyone but the characters they were playing.
My favorite technical aspect of the show was a screen that they used throughout the show, namely in the beginning. The screen covered the top half of the stage and on the screen was projected different images and videos of Argentina during the time of Evita’s death. Underneath this screen, the actors interacted with the events occurring on the screen, creating a perfect blend that incorporated more detail and setting of the events of the show without creating a rift between technology and performance.
Although I enjoyed the show immensely, there were a few aspects that I was not a fan of. The first was a change of hair color in Eva Perón in the middle of the first act. This change disoriented me since the hair color change was unveiled during a scene in which there were many characters onstage. Because of all the bodies on stage, it took me a while to identify Eva as she was singing because I was not expecting her sudden change from brunette to blond. Another aspect that confused me was not a technical detail, but rather part of the show itself. Perón’s mistress, played by Krystina Alabado, sings a song entitled “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” shortly after Perón and Eva’s first meeting. This song, while performed beautifully, seemed out of place in the show as it was performed by a character that appeared nowhere in the show except for that song.
The performance of Evita at the Orpheum dazzled me and I left the theater last evening completely enchanted. Evita featured incredibly talented performers and very creative aspects in choreography and technology that brought the whole performance to an entirely new level. I would recommend this show without a single hesitation.