Cygnet Theatre Brings New Life to Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Evita"

The Old Town Company's Adaptation Uses the Space Well and Adds a Level of Seriousness by Projecting Real-Life Videos

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti 

Berto Fernández and Ariella Kvashny. Photo Karli Cadel 
The Tony Award-winning musical Evita, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, currently playing at Cygnet theatre and directed by Artistic Director Sean Murray -who saw Evita in 1977 with the original cast-, showcases a talented creative team led by music director Patrick Marion.

The musical is based on true events regarding Argentinian actress Eva Duarte, turned First Lady Eva Perón during Juan Perón's regime in the late forties, and early fifties. A controversial story with contrasting views that has served as inspiration for plays, a musical, and several movies, one even with Madonna as Evita, which is what the people called her. 

One of the standout elements of this show is the fantastic ensemble: Susana Cafasso Alvarado, Augusto Guardado, Justin Lunsford, Matthew Malecki, Daisy Martinez, Sebastian Montenegro, Vanessa Orozco, Brian Osuna, Liliana Rodriguez, Tamara Sofia Rodriguez Mehl-Mchugh, Matthew Ryan, Jazz Ruiz, and Lucy Santos, whose energy and skill bring the production to life, mastering Carlos Mendoza’s choreography and adding their own flare and level of difficulty. The bare scenic design by Mathys Herbert features two levels and a color palette of black and gray. This design reminded me of the set in "Next to Normal," where characters move up and down, creating a dynamic stage presence. Although the staircase was not visible in Evita, the design worked well in the Cygnet space, adding a seriousness that aligns with the subject matter of the musical.

Vanessa Orozco. Photo Karli Cadel

The sound design by Evan Eason deserves praise for its ability to showcase the cast's talent and make the music resonate throughout the space. I was pleasantly surprised by the incorporation of real scenes from the Peron couple's life through Blake McCarty's projection design. These projections served as backdrops, providing a deeper context and guiding the audience through the narrative. For me too, as I always have thought that Andrew Lloyd Webber kind of “Disneyfied” this story, so adding the videos brings a balance between the romanticism of the songs and the reality of the facts/historical events. Another interesting and creative aspect that many will not be aware of is that Eva was an actress in Argentina before her political career, and her on and off-screen nemesis was Libertad Lamarque who was mysteriously and coincidentally blacklisted once Eva became the first lady of Argentina. Libertad moved to Mexico and became an international sensation. My whole parenthesis regarding this is that there is a scene in this production that shows a movie starting Lamarque which I thought was grand and an amazing historical nod. I do not remember this from the Broadway production. Regardless, it was great. Amanda Zieve's lighting design was also notable, effectively creating momentum in each crucial scene, and Zoë Trautmann's costume design with attention to detail regarding Eva's different phases as well as her followers, along with tango garb that had to make an appearance. Another detail I appreciated was Juan Perón's presidential stole, as I thought it was beautiful. I do not know if this was Trautmann or a props design by Heather Longfellow, but I noticed!

Matthew Malecki Martinez. Photo Karli Cadel 
Ariella Kvashny as Eva Perón is amazing with a voice and range for days. She interprets this historic icon with grace and poise. Berto Fernández continues to amaze me with his work. The interpretative range this man has is never ending and I am happy to see that he continues to explore it and share it with us. Even though I have seen him in other musicals, I believe this production showcased his vocal ability even more as the notes sung are deep, long, strong, and sustained. Vanessa Orozco as the mistress and also part of the ensemble, was absolutely captivating with a beautiful voice and gave a great rendition of the song Another Suitcase In Another Hall. Matthew Malecki Martinez as the famous Argentinian tango singer "Magaldi" was enchanting and very funny as well. 

Overall, this production under the direction of Sean Murray, is a captivating experience. Now extended through October 1st, this is a good opportunity for people who have never seen this classic made possible through a remarkable and creative effort. 

For more information on dates and times, please click HERE

No comments:

Post a Comment