Evita is a musical that opened on The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts Stage on August 12 and will run through August 17. For those who do not know, Evita is a musical with lyrics by Tim Rice and a score written by multi-award winning composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber. The musical is about the former First Lady of Argentina, Eva Perón. The musical follows her early life, rise to power, charity work and her eventual death.
Eva Perón was born in 1919 in the poor town of Los Toldos, Argentina. She made her way to Buenos Aires (the capital of Argentina) in the 1930s at the mere age of 15. Soon after moving there she rapidly climbed the social ladder and became an actress on a radio station. She then married Juan Perón, a military officer, in 1945 after dating for a year. The following year he became the president of Argentina where Eva used her position as the first lady to fight for women's suffrage and improving the lives of the poor. She died in 1952 of cancer and was given the title "Spiritual Leader of the Nation."
Going into this musical with very minimal knowledge was a mistake. If you do not know anything about Eva Perón, I suggest you musical to take the time to research her and her life. The musical's plotline was a little twisty turny and due to the large chorus numbers (sometimes sung in Spanish), it was a little hard to follow. The chorus had a wonderful sound and tone to it however at times it was hard to understand.
This production had something that I haven't seen in quite some time. Something that is simple but in my opinion required in almost every musical I would like to see and that is dance. This new staged production uses beautiful tango choreography by Rob Ashford that is truly beautiful and really adds to the authenticity of the Argentinean production.
The thing I enjoyed the most about Evita was the powerhouse leading actress, Caroline Bowman, who portrayed Eva Perón. She had such an amazing stage presence that had me begging for her to return to the stage every time she exited. Bowman's powerful vocal stamina is what really brought me into the musical. At times she had a belt that is in the ranks of Broadway legends like Patti LuPone (the Tony-Award winning actress who originated the role on Broadway) while other times her voice was soft and gentle in songs like "Don't Cry for Me Argentina."
At the top of the second act, Bowman came out onto the balcony to address her people. She wore a dress that was almost too fabulous for the Argentinean diva as she delicately sung the musical's most popular song. It was this moment when I knew just who Caroline Bowman was. Just like the lyrics in the song "Buenos Aires," Caroline Bowman is an actress with true star quality.