The Community Players' third show of their 84th season is Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's, "Evita" which is about Eva Peron, bit actress, mistress and wife to Argentine dictator Juan Peron. The show is a collage of Eva's rise to power and her early death at the age of 33 on July 26, 1952. It is a look at a woman loved by the poor and hated by the rich and powerful. She was not above taking matters into her capable hands whether it be charity fund, colonels on the rise to political power or, finally political power itself. Director Vincent Lupino and musical director, Ron Procopio cast 20 talented adults and 7 talented children in this entirely sung show. Vincent blocks this huge cast very well while Ron not only taught the cast their 27 musical numbers with lovely, lush melodies and harmonies but also plays the keyboards for the show, leading to a standing ovation at the end. (The only thing that marred an almost perfect show was a malfunctioning microphone and some loud feedback which will be rectified by this coming Tuesday with the installation of a new sound system.)
Vincent uses the aisles of the theater for entrances and exits, keeping this show in constant motion from start to finish. His staging of the scenes is right on the money especially the majestic "A New Argentina" which closes the first act. (Reminiscent of "One Day More" from "Les Miz".) He is aided by Karen Kessler who choregraphed the show. Her choreography of "Buenos Aires" reminds you of the mambo from "West Side Story" while the energetic dance to "And The Money Kept Rolling In" almost stops the show with its power and energy. The mood lighting is designed by Rob Ferland, the light board is operated by Mary Thompson while the multitude of gorgeous costumes are by Marcia Zammarelli. (Eva Peron has so many costumes that I lost count.)
Heading this large cast is Lia Del Sesto as Evita. She handles the transition from young admirer of famous people to manipulator of them to powerful politico very well. Lia does a great rendition of "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" and handles the dying scenes very poignantly in her lament. She shows off her dancing ability in "Buenos Aires" as well as her singing ability with a lovely soprano voice in the seductive duet, "I'd Be Surprisingly Good for You" and the exuberant "Rainbow High". The narrator of this show, Che is played by Dominique Doiron. He moves in and out of the scenes commenting on what is taking place while his fantastic tenor voice soars off the charts in the gorgeous, "High Flying Adored" to the raucous " Oh what a Circus" and the Money song with the chorus. Dominique and Lia have a comic number with her many lovers called ""Goodnight and Thank You". He gives one of the best portrayals of Che that I have ever seen. Bravo. Jeffrey Parry does a wonderful job with the underwritten role of Peron. His powerful singing voice sells his duets with Lia as well as "The Art of the Possible" (the musical chair group number), "She is A Diamond" and the reprise of "High Flying Adored".
Chris O'Donnell shows off his fabulous, strong tenor voice as Magaldi, Evita's first lover who she use to get into show business. His top notes in "On This Night of a 1000 Stars" are exquisite and he commands the stage in this supporting role beautifully. Playing the mistress is Naomi Winkler who is a senior at Shea High School who gets to show off her pretty voice in the beautiful and moving ballad, "Another Suitcase in Another Hall". The chorus excells in their numbers and the children sing their "Please Gentle Eva" the sweetness it needs. (Ron's hard work on the harmonies in the choral numbers really shine through.) So for a rousing production of "Evita", be sure to catch it in Pawtucket before it is too late.