“Evita” at the Orpheum Theatre: Lights! Talent! Action…?

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Evita at the Orpheum is a fast-paced, dramatic retelling of Argentina’s favorite First Lady, Eva Perón. Though at times the plot felt rushed and muddled on stage, the cast of amazing performers distracts from that with their spectacular talent. I was most enthralled by the stunning choreography and lighting, which accented the show perfectly. Despite all the glitz, the show still feels bland at times and fails to show how influential Eva Perón was in her day.

Caroline Bowman, the actress playing the title role of Evita, blew me away on all levels. Her vocal talent, acting ability, and dancing were superb. I was completely entranced by her voice — I’ll admit, I even spent a good amount of time on the internet searching for more videos of her singing! She had a stunning stage presence and a way with the crowd. However, there was one other performer that rivaled her ability. Caroline Bowman was dazzling, but Josh Young as Che completely stole the show. He was powerful, moving, a force to be reckoned with! Attractive too, but that’s besides the point. He hit notes that would make Kristen Chenoweth jealous. Young and Bowman are a dynamic duo and make the already great show fabulous.

Rob Ashford deserves an award for his choreography in this production. I was stunned by the huge dance numbers, especially in “Buenos Aires”, some of the subtle moves in smaller numbers, and just the fluidity of everything in general. He wove choreography seamlessly in with the music. Everything was sharp and wonderfully theatrical. 

Another kudos to the lighting design of Neil Austin. As an actress myself, I usually find myself subconsciously focusing only on the performances of the cast and not even paying attention to things like lighting. This was the first show I’ve ever been to where I really enjoyed just the lighting in itself. Accompanied by the scenic design of Christopher Oram, a beautiful visual of Argentina was created.

The only major drawback of the show was… well, the show. Despite the top-notch cast and crew, Evita itself isn’t necessarily a stunning show. It’s good but not great — forget brilliant. The plot is sometimes rushed and confusing. There were random time-skips that left me a bit confused. During one scene, Evita’s hair was brown and she was wearing fashionable but still humble clothing; however, in the next scene (presumably several years later, though that really should’ve been clarified because I had no idea) her hair was blonde and she was clad in a white, revealing, obviously expensive gown. Also, I felt that the power and influence of Eva Perón was majorly underrepresented in the plot. It was hard to feel her love for the people and vice versa — I reiterate, not because of poor acting, but because the story itself fell through. The only people to blame for the somewhat shoddy plot are Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber, I suppose.

If you plan on seeing Evita, go for the fantastic visuals and wonderful performances. Expect a lukewarm plot. If given a chance to see it again, I would accept.