15 March 2015
Evita is not an attractive character and the politics of it all and even the musical itself has me in a quandary. She's presented as a grasping, self-important, self-serving person who yet has a connection with her people. She's a woman and they often get the bad rap. She drives her President husband to support the workers (or perhaps to use them) against the richer classes and seems to nationalise British-owned industry but leave the country's finances and welfare in tatters and her Swiss bank account (but not in her name) swelling. There's some history research needed here, partly because I never trust dramatic recreations of historical events and partly because I struggled to hear lots of the text anyway. Just nice to see the Italians saw through her, but they had the experience of Mussolini. Evita was fabulously presented by a large cast (44 cast members appeared for the curtain call and that's without the band of ~20 and sound and lights and backstage and the rest). It's a mega-success for Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics). I don't remember any text that was not sung. The music was constant and pretty interesting. I felt a previous work by Lloyd Webber seemed to have just a few themes appearing repetitively. This was more varied if still something like leitmotiv with melodies matching characters or sometimes situations or themes. The big casts were well used for some graphic scenes, of mourning or cheering peasants or complaining plutocracy. There were some amusing military scenes, too: a musical chairs that Peron wins through a trivial ruse at the end and some marching toy soldier song scenes. Evita was strong in voice and personality and Peron was decently-voiced and believable but Che (Guevara?) was ever-present and very strong in role and voice. Given the continual music, this was a great workout for the band and singers. I noticed how much I enjoyed the big scenes of big casts which professional productions will probably not afford. Whatever, this was a great show and I can only stand in awe that an amateur group could present it. And it's just one of many in the Canberra musical theatre scene this year. Great work.
Evita was performed by Canberra Philharmonic at Erindale Theatre. Key cast were Kelly Roberts (Evita), Grant Pegg (Che) and Tony Falla (Perón) under Jim McMullen (director), Casey White (musical director) and Eliza Shephard and Shasha Chen (choreography).
Thanks to Wikicommons for the pic of Eva Peron