A Lament to “Evita” at the Orpheum Theatre

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A slew of last minute Monday night research set me up to believe this show would be unbelievably ‘up my alley’. Evita incorporates a headstrong, determined heroine, a symbolic undertone and a latin flair. I, for one, am a big fan of the stated elements above. Although I did love the idea of the show, and wanted to like it, I simply could not.

This Tony award winning musical begins in the 1930’s but follows the years through the leading lady, Eva Perón’s life. A star arises in Buenos Aires and we see her go from a sleazy celebrity to a powerful political figure and crucial piece in the Argentine government’s game during World War Two. I love the idea of opera in musical theatre, for example Bare: A Pop Opera is one of my favorite musicals, but regardless of whether you stop singing or not, there still needs to be levels, dynamics, and beats to convey a story and bring a musical to life. These are not things that came through in this particular show. The majority of the show was drab and felt like one never-ending scene. The genre of the music seemed to flip randomly and none of it felt cohesive. There were so many dynamics within each song the overall tone of the show lost its drama. The only thing breaking up these painful scenes is its beautiful imagery.

Having a background in theatre and photography, one of my favorite games to play while watching a musical is called ‘which moments would I photograph to put in the shows facebook album’ (well in this case I assume there is a more elaborate display for the photos but that is beside the point). And in many shows there are a few standout moments where the lights hits just right and the set looks beautiful and the blocking and physicality is perfect, however in this show there were countless moments. Something about the almost constant fog and the simplicity of the set exuded such a poetic vibe to the story. I loved the tea lights of the restaurant and during her balcony salutes.

I loved the performance of the narrator character, Che, played by Josh Young. He brought a very honest, cynical role to the table and kept us in the perspective of the people of Argentina. Our young Eva Peron, played by Caroline Bowman wasn’t in any way a favorite. It takes a lot to remain three dimensional in a big theatre like the Orpheum where we can’t read facial expressions and I don’t think she had it in that way. Her voice sounded pretty when she showed her softer side but felt screechy and annoying in the more upbeat numbers. I loved a lot of the choreography, but it could have used more variety and stayed truer to the setting. The fight choreography towards the beginning of the show when we meet Perón was original and played very nicely.

While there were some elements I enjoyed about this show they did not outweigh the lackadaisical and monotone vibe I felt in this show. I was easily bored despite the interesting plot and was not overly impressed with any of the performers. If you are intrigued by the Perón story, I’d recommend watching the movie instead.