Tuesday, April 8, 2008
This really is a good musical. I had only seen it once before, and that was the original London production in 1982, although I’ve listened to the American recording with Patti and Mandy many, many times over the years. The music and the story are involving and, as performed by a national touring company Sunday at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, make for a great theatrical experience.
Malia Tippets was a beautiful-voiced Evita and Omar Lopez-Cepero was compelling as Che, the Argentine rebel who narrates the story, based on the life of Eva Peron, the charismatic, ambitious and often ruthless wife of Argentine dictator Juan Peron, who was well-portrayed by Philip Peterson.
The story, as I’m sure you know, follows Eva’s single-minded drive to overcome her humble beginnings, transforming herself into an actress before setting her sights on Peron, advancing his career and securing for herself the role of first lady of Argentina. Hiding her duplicitous dealing behind a charitable foundation, she became a saint in the eyes of the working class and poor people of the country.
The 1979 Broadway production won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Besides the widely known hit “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,” other memorable songs include “Oh What A Circus,” “High Flying Adored,” and “Another Suitcase in Another Hall.”
This current touring company did an excellent job, especially considering the difficulty of presenting a major musical for one performance only. The dancing and costumes were Broadway quality, making up for the scarcity of scenery.
My hat goes off to all of the performers and the production crew. As we were all leaving the theatre, sets and props were already being loaded into a huge truck parked out back. These people are really living an in-and-out, another-suitcase-in-another-hall vagabond existence. I know showbiz isn’t a stable profession, but the on-the-go life of touring companies is rough even when the run is for a week or two in each place. I interviewed an actor once who couldn’t remember if he was supposed to exit stage right or stage left in the theatre he was in -- he had been in so many -- that when he made the wrong choice and went the wrong way, he tripped over a prop in the dark and broke a bone in his foot.
I hope these actors, especially those three leads, get their big break soon. They’ve earned it!