A Broadway classic returns to Providence. "Evita" is a product of the amazing team of Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics) and the first National tour since it debuted on Broadway over 30 years ago. Originally released as a concept album, as was "Jesus Christ Superstar," the music blends rock, classical music and Latin rhythms with much success, the songs as well as melodies are quite familiar and iconic.
Loosely based on Argentina's political rise of Eva Peron and her husband Juan, the musical is narrated by a fictional character, Che, who serves to string the story together, as well as comment on Eva's aspirations. Eva is portrayed by Caroline Bowman, Juan by Sean McLaughlin and Che by Josh Young. McLaughlin plays the future president with conviction and sings with a slight accent; it works quite well for the role.
Bowman is fantastic as our heroine; she has the right voice and stage presence "I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You," "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" and successfully carries us through her life to a truly heartbreaking death scene. It is the energy of the performance by Young as Che that truly dazzles. "High Flying Adored" and "Oh What a Circus" showcase his vocal talents as well as his ability to carry a difficult role with surprising ease.
The ensemble cast is a strong one, and well chosen for this production. The role of the mistress (as it is referred to in the cast list) is a brief role but competently handled by Krystina Alabado "Another Suitcase in Another Hall." The rest fluidly dance and sing throughout the show with much energy and showcase the amazing chemistry between our love-struck political couple.
"You Must Love Me" a song written for, and taken from, the 1996 movie version featuring Madonna in the title role is also a welcome addition to the roster of songs and an emotional scene between Eva and Peron.
The set design by Christopher Oram, who also serves as costume designer, is simple in concept but effectively switches between the opulence of Argentine high society and the world of the peasants. The costumes are quite impressive for Eva and Peron and again in contrast to the poor of the country. Director Michael Grandage runs a very tight performance from his talented cast, and choreographer Rob Ashford produces numbers that are quite simply, breathtaking to watch.
"Evita" is quite well established in the lexicon of American theater by now, but if you haven't seen a performance of this show, do yourself a favor and visit PPAC before it moves on. You won't be sorry.
"Evita" runs through Sept. 14 at Providence Performing Arts Center, 220 Weybosset Street #2 in Providence. For info or tickets call 401-421-ARTS (2787) or visit www.ppac.org.