I saw the Evita Broadway revival on October 13, 2012 at the Marqui s theatre in New York. I was in town for New York Comic Con. Per usual, I usually try to see at least one Broadway show while I am in the area. I have seen a non-equity tour of Evita previously in San Francisco a few years earlier. My familiarity to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita dates back to when the Alan Parker Evita came out while I was in middle school. I knew all the music thanks to my dad’s old recording of the concept album. Much of my obsession with style and sophistication came from this musical. When I heard that there was a revival of Evita, I immediately had to see it the first chance I got.
Like any Broadway show, it was not cheap at all. There wasn’t any student rush or last minute discounted tickets. People, mostly Latin Americans, really wanted to see it for Ricky Martin. Likewise, I was the youngest and most Asian in the theatre. The curtain had portraits of Eva and Juan Peron. It felt like something out of “I Love Lucy.” I did appreciate the charm to this pairing.
Any veteran Broadway fan is familiar with the Evita story – rags to riches Argentina style. Elena Roger stepped into the title role. I had very mixed feelings about Roger’s portrayal of Eva Peron. While I grew up on Madonna and Patti LuPone, my biggest issue was Roger’s age and tone of voice. There were moments she was struggling to hit the higher belted notes. When Evita is supposed to be in her younger, formative years, Rogers looks like she’s too old to play a 16 something. However, I did like her acting and her on stage chemistry with Ricky Martin (Che) and Michael Cerveris (Juan Peron). I will also note that she’s a ringer for the real Eva Peron. When she’s poised in sophistication during “The Money Kept Rolling In,” she does bear a striking resemblance.
Of course, Ricky Martin was the biggest draw. What I liked about this revival, Che is just the narrator and he is not modeled after the Cuban revolutionary. In other words, it’s played off more like the movie version of Che. I did not think Ricky Martin was too distracting. The man can certainly act and sing. People cheered for him when he showed up during “Oh What a Circus.” Anytime he was on stage, he really lit things up. While one can argue that Evita is almost a one woman show, he really brings this new stage version of Che to life. I really hope this performance is immortalized somehow because I ended up liking him more than Antonio Banderas.
However, my favorite performance had to come from Michael Cerveris’ Juan Peron. I’ve seen Cerveris before in Sweeney Todd and the guy can pull off almost anything. I’m glad they did not go with the Lex Luthor Juan Peron as the promotional images implied. I liked that the revival added “You Must Love Me” to the show. Ceveris and Roger’s “I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You” is very sexy and I just how these two play off each other. While Roge is singing this tune, there’s something about the subtleties that Ceveris brings to Juan Peron. No doubt he has an amazing voice, this performance is not one to be missed.
I really liked the new design and layout for the revival. First of all, this was a phenomenal ensemble. Anytime the cast was onstage to do a huge dance number – “Buenos Aires,” “The Money Kept Rolling In,” etc, it was a delight to look at. Everyone is colorful and so much energy is being brought in. The set design resembled the Casa Rosada and it’s the show’s center piece for the majority. It’s very flexible to also pass off as Eva’s apartment of sex, lies, and scandal. As far as music arrangements go, as mentioned before, I’m very happy “You Must Love Me” was added to the libretto. It really does show Eva’s mortality and just one desperate plea to be loved in return. This is a very heartfelt scene that drew me to tears. Even so, it was brought back again in the “Montage” at the end.
While I’ve grown up with the movie version of Evita, I really enjoyed this revival version just the same. It brought back a ton of fond memories from middle school from memorizing the complete libretto to doing a famous person report on Eva Peron. I highly recommend this to anyone who was fond of the movie. Though I’m mixed on Elena Roger’s rendition of Eva, it’s still worth it for everything else. I’ll admit that $140 for orchestra is a bit steep for my wallet, but it was worth it to at least see it with Ricky Martin and Michael Ceveris at least once.
erica @ scarlet-rhapsody.com