note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Beverly Creasey
Reviewed by Beverly Creasey
The latest Broadway tour of "Evita" has all the bells and whistles of the sensational original -- that is, Hall Prince's immaculate staging and Larry Fuller's explosive choreography --- which makes it miles better than the movie. But this particular production (with new sets and costumes) has a slightly lighter, more irreverent touch. Witness the kewpie doll voice of dynamo Natalie Toro as one of the two actresses playing Evita during the run. Raoul Esparza as Che brings a rock'n'roll urgency to his songs, spitting out the last words of a verse. Raymond Jaramillo McLeod, too, plays Peron more for elegance than for brute force. What combustibility is generated by Toro, Esparza, and McLeod! The production fairly drips with irony, which serves to focus the ear on Webber's mocking trumpet codas as well as on Rice's sarcastic lyrics. "Evita" was to be their last collaboration.
The only casualty to such a sardonic point of view is the sympathy usually generated at the end, when Evita is defeated by herself. The triumvirate more than makes up for that lack --- and grand performance come as well from Tom Flynn as the oily Magaldi and from Angela Covington as Peron's pubescent mistress.
Bravo to the producers for giving us a Latino connection in all four leads, but the authentic pronunciation of "ArgHentina" almost gets in the way of the delicate rhythm of "Don't Cry for Me..."; and why honor the pronunciation here and not in Peron's song about "Job Satisfaction in Uruguay"? A small quibble with a powerful production.