note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Beverly Creasey
Imagine a President who frets about the “inconvenience of getting a majority of votes”…A president who spends with no regard for the future…who practices “military” diplomacy…and quips that he might “do one or two of the things he promised” before he was elected. NO. It’s Juan Peron and the musical is EVITA, up in a rousing (and surprisingly timely) production at Turtle Lane Playhouse. The Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber musical was their last collaboration together and although both have gone on to write more hit musicals, none is as powerful as EVITA.
And TurtleLane has a powerhouse cast. The roles of Evita and Che are doubled: I saw Sarah Consentino and Chuck Walsh this past weekend. What a pleasure to hear and understand every word that’s sung. (Webber’s dissonant music usually makes it difficult to make out the lyrics, especially in the ensemble numbers.) Walsh and Consentino play off each other brilliantly, as if Che were Evita’s conscience.
Consentino moves effortlessly from provocative nymph to confidant siren and just as easily from operatic voice to belt range. Walsh does somersaults with his voice, “high flying” on the top notes, making both their performances crackle.
Peter Adams brings a wonderful musicality to the role of Peron. With Adams in the role, it’s easy to understand why Eva, not to mention the whole of Argentina, fell for him. Dan Garcia, too, wows as the showboating Magaldi. Musical director Wayne Ward gets professional singing from everyone on stage.
This EVITA is fun. Director J. Scott Brumit gets extra mileage from the cheeky “Good Night and Thank you” number by increasing the number of men passing through Eva’s bedroom. Brumit adds several delightful touches and choreographer Charlie Borden varies the standard Hal Prince dancing to punch up the venom, for example, in the military march (although I miss Prince’s juxtaposition of the aristocrats and the soldiers carefully avoiding each other).
Jeffrey Gardiner’s imaginative (and ingenious) set, with its two-sided balcony and over-sized bed makes the Turtle Lane stage look positively huge. None of the ensemble numbers, even the crowd scenes, look the slightest bit cramped. Richard Itczak’s sophisticated ‘40s “designer” dresses, especially the pink “Dior” give this EVITA class. Oh what a circus!