Short and Sweet: Evita

Photo Credit: Richard Termine

Photo Credit: Richard Termine

Broadway In Chicago is happy to introduce “Short and Sweet,” a quick view of our shows courtesy of Diana Martinez, who will give you the lowdown on Broadway In Chicago productions from the perspective of an audience member. Diana has more than 25 years of experience as an entertainment executive, most recently as President of The Second City. She has directed and produced over 40 live Broadway musical theatre shows and has presented more than 350 world-class Broadway national tours, dance, headline comedians and concert. We hope you enjoy this quick insight into our shows, and since this is all about our audience, share your own thoughts with us in the comments below.

Evita is as timely as ever in this edgy Broadway National Tour revival. In a social-political climate where we constantly ask ourselves “Why is Kim Kardashian a celebrity again?” and “How did anyone as unqualified as Sarah Palin ever have the chance to run for president?,”  we realize these modern day opportunistic, self-made “celebrities” use the oldest tricks in the book: feminine charms that manipulate the media and make themselves relevant, just like Eva Peron did.

If you are fan of Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita, you will love this new production. Remember the stark 80’s industrial bridge set of the original Broadway tour of Evita? Well, thank goodness, it is gone, and has been replaced with a gorgeous neo-classic unit set that frames this beautifully lit and staged version.  This updated revival includes strategically-placed documentary style video clips from the period that truly enhance the show by strategically reminding us this is a real story and reinforces the incredible power she had over so many people, and the historical impact it had on her life. It also is a reminder that the media was controlled entirely by Colonel Juan Domingo Peron during his regime. Peron set up a government run press and radio service, while severely restricting the freedom of the opposition media. It’s also why there was so much media hype in support of and admiration forf them.

The first national tour of Evita at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago features a strong cast and amazing musical direction. The voices are clean and clear, the diction is perfect, and the choral numbers are crisp, dynamic and haunting when they need to be. You can’t help but notice all the subtle and dynamic musical choices – the voices all across the board were absolutely gorgeous. You may notice some new twists in the score: there are additions in the orchestrations that add more of a tango flair, an added medley before the Eva’s death scene and a surprising additional song, “You Must Love Me,” from the Madonna film version.

I spoke to a friend I ran into during intermission and asked her what she thought of the show. She responded, “I am so surprised at how in-your-face in this version is.” When I asked her to clarify, she explained that she hadn’t realized how corrupt Eva actually was. This was always my argument with the original version, as it truly made her out to be “a cross between a fantasy of the bedroom and a saint.” However, for those who have studied her, all of her outward expressions of philanthropy were staged, calculated, publicity stunts.  Having directed the show myself years ago and having a Central American background, I was always clear on how Eva “worked” her way through the ranks to fame. But if you simply watched the original version, it was up to you to make your own call on her intentions. However, this version makes it crystal clear, that philanthropy was not her primary motive.

The relationship and chemistry between Sean MacLaughlin who plays Juan Peron and Caroline Bowman as Eva Peron is unique and captivating. MacLaughlin is a departure from the traditional stodgy old Peron typically cast in the role. He is handsome and younger, and it adds a new tension and level to the show.

Don’t miss this chance to see this great classic musical theater masterpiece. The music pulls you in from the first few notes. This show is a wonderful introduction to musical theatre for teens (however, remember there are some adult scenes in the show).

The show runs a little under two and half hours. It’s the perfect date night show. Sophisticated, sexy and edgy.

Evita is now playing at the Oriental Theatre through October 6. For tickets: http://bit.ly/Evita13

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