“Evita” at the Orpheum Theatre: A Little More Than a Touch of Star Quality

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Feeling as though you have truly been transported from the Orpheum theater seats located in ice-locked city of Minneapolis to the sun baked streets of Argentina by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita is not a statement that Minnesotan’s should take lightly. I, however, can truthfully say that the set, the costumes, the singing and dancing even the lighting, took me to the next continent without the expensive airfare. Regretfully the plot did not have quiet the same effect. When I came to the show, I was unaware that Evita had been a real person until about ten minutes before the show started. I wish that I could say I learned much more than that by the end of the show. The story was content to be a musical criticism of a woman, Evita as she makes her way from a small, rural town in Argentina to become its well-adored and nearly worshiped first lady. This perspective, however, is abruptly turned around the moment she dies into a tragic lament of a deceased goddess. This confusion was only increased by the addition of obscure and seemingly unrelated characters like “Che” and the “Mistress”. Though based on reality, the story falls short of really developing the complexities and depth of a real human being. The show should be watched with the aim of entertainment, which the production clearly succeeds at. Visually and musically, the performance was a work of art. What the plot lacked in substance, the performers proved that this performance of Evita is a stunning spectacle of lights, dance, sound and power, with more than just a little touch of star quality.

Production wise, the performance blew me away. The singing, the dancing, lights, and music, made me feel as if I had been swept away from my seat and deposited right to the dusty streets of Argentina. The technical elements of the show blended so nicely, the use of smoke created a sun faded nostalgic effect or a godlike one that could transition smoothly from one to the other with the slightest variance of light. The vocal performance of all the actors was spectacular, the show is very operatic in nature and is filled with dramatic, over-the top clashing chords that took extraordinary talent to pull off. But the show wasn’t just an operetta; it was a Broadway operetta, which meant plenty of highly energetic and zealous dancing. The show was choreographed by Rob Ashford whose dancing numbers were the highlight of the show. The show did a wonderful job of incorporating the Argentinean culture though the tango, a dance that seemed have its influence run perpetually throughout the entire show. The tango, an elegant, passionate, dance that has at times even a manipulative quality is the perfect fit to personify Evita’s well-adored yet ambitious and ruthless struggle to success.

Though the story of Evita is sorely lacking plot-wise, the production is still a remarkable experience I highly recommend. Just maybe include a brief Google search on the life of Evita Perón before you excavate your driveway of snow so you may factually add substance to the talented performance you are about to see.