Last night I took my mom and my godmother to see EVITA on Broadway. Unfortunately, the show is closing on the 26th because Ricky Martin can’t stay on and they don’t want to recast Che (can’t say I blame them, but more on how fantastic he is later), but I’m glad we went before the show ended its run.
The Latin vibe and intricate choreography combine to make a lively show. The ensemble does an excellent job and the sets are impressive. Personally, I like to sit front mezz because I’m short and, depending on the layout of the stage, there have been times when I can’t see what’s going on (like the time I bought obstructed view seats for Rent, oops). We sat 2 rows back, dead center in the front mezzanine and I thought that was perfect, although I do think it was one of the few shows where it would have been great to sit in the orchestra as well.
Growing up my mother had us listen to the soundtrack of a show before we went to see it because it makes it easier to follow along; I highly recommend this, especially for this show. Thankfully Madonna repopularized this soundtrack when I was in High School (way back in 1997) by portraying Evita on the big screen (oh, Madge, I do hope you saw the irony of the Material Girl playing so I was ahead of the game. Now for some highlights:
Star Quality: My apologies to Elena Roger, who played the title character, but anyone who has seen the show would absolutely agree that Ricky Martin has more “star quality” in his grin than the entire cast has in their collective dancing feet (and they’re pretty great). He sings, he dances, he's as handsome as ever - and he makes it all look completely effortless! To top it all of, he seemed genuinely humbled when the crowd went nuts for him during the curtain call; he gave this sort of awkward/adorable double thumbs up that I could see myself doing if I was ever on some sort of stage (not that I've ever thought about what I'd do in such a sitaution, nope... moving on...).
A Mixed Review: It is very cool that Elena Roger is Argentinean considering the role (I mean, she really means it when she says “I am Argentina”) and her acting is impressive; the hyper movements of her tiny, little dancing doll body combined with her strong and confident projection really make her a convincing Evita. However, there are moments when her fast-talking ways make it difficult to understand her and her voice comes across as shrill when she’s in the higher register (thankfully she doesn’t spend much time up there). Other than that, her costumes are fabulous, hair and make-up transforms her and her body is in tip top shape (her arms could give FLOTUS’ a run for the money).
Scene Stealer: Rachel Potter plays Perón’s mistress and, while she only has one song, she makes it count. “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” is beautiful and as the mistress collects the clothes that Evita has thrown from the balcony and Che narrates the scene, you half hope Potter will run away with Ricky Martin and start their own show.
The show ended kind of abruptly (SPOILER ALERT); she dies (also, the Titanic sinks and Bruce Willis’ character in The 6th Sense is dead) and they cover the bed with the Argentinean flag to make it look like a coffin and the final lines are Che speaking about how they built a monument to her, but before they finished the pedestal her body was stolen and it wasn’t recovered for 17 years. THE END. Ummm, okay, way to open a can of worms and split. This is a Broadway musical, so obviously you’re not going to get into the whole military coup and Perón peace-ing out because he was overthrown and that’s why her body was left unattended, but I’m not a big fan of having to Wikipedia strings of plot that were left hanging after I walk out of the theater either, so I’d prefer they just left that part out if they weren’t going to add an entire 3rd act.
All in all, great production, excellent cast, and I’m glad I saw it. Now what’s next at the Marquis theater?