Gail and I are in New York for 3 days of theater, starting with the revival of Evita. It’s incredible.
In the Marquis Theater, inside the Marriott Marquis right smack dab in Times Square, they have significantly remade the play with all new sets, costumes and choreography; the music remains the same because it’s perfect.
Pop music idol Ricky Martin plays Che, in a very different portrayal than in years past. Mandy Patinkin was a brooding, angry Che, filled with rage at the oppressive system. Martin, head thrust forward like Dan Ackroyd selling Bass-O-Matics, smirking like Burt Reynolds in Cannonball Run, is a (somewhat) more dispassionate observer. He has sold over 60 million albums; I guess you could say he can sing. Martin dances well, and the production seems to have him onstage most of the time. The audience was clearly his from his first entrance–which would explain all those younger women in swoon, although Martin is open about being gay. A girl can dream.
Eva is played by Elena Roger, the first time an Argentine has played the role. She was cast when the production opened in London 5 years ago, and continues to define the role. Ms. Roger is tiny and not really very pretty, but neither was Eve Peron. She has an enormous voice, however, albeit often quite nasal. She dances wonderfully, much better than Ricky Martin. When she dies at the end, she’ll break your heart.
Colonel Peron is played by Michael Cerveris, who we saw as Sweeney Todd a few years ago, in an impressive performance enhanced by his rich voice.
The best singer in the show, I thought, was Max von Essen, as Augustin Magaldi, the tango singer who brought Evita to Buenos Aires as a young girl.
It’s always interesting to see the attention to detail in a production. Cerveris wears a wig as Juan Peron, and it looks like he needs a haircut. Why? What was behind that artistic choice? Eva Peron’s wigs all have dark roots beneath the blond hair–another way the producers choose to demonstrate her lower class “roots”?
The new sets are impressive, making the show more solid and less impressionistic than I remember. The updated choreography is more free flowing, and has taken out the musical chairs staging of the song “Politics, the art of the possible”
Evita is my favorite of the Andrew Lloyd Weber canon, and this production only increases my appreciation for it. I’m glad we saw it.