Evita | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


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Evita, Drury Lane Oakbrook. Crying for lost savings makes more sense for Argentineans than weeping for a self-proclaimed saint who fleeced her country as she cultivated celebrity status, then was smart enough to die at the same age as Christ. The Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice mega musical works hard to disprove its own curious dismissal of Evita, spat out by her ideological nemesis Che Guevara: "She did nothing for years." For two brilliantly compressed hours, Evita does and is everything to everyone.

Resembling a political puppet play, Ray Frewen's caricature-heavy staging often relies on the props of power, especially historical slides of Eva Peron. Unfortunately these souvenirs of her operatic gestures in propagandistic tableaux make the stage action look fairly threadbare; they also confirm that Evita could never be more artificial than its source. With its frenzied tangos and goose steps, Marla Lampert and Paul Sullenger's choreography is as stylized as the rest of the show.

Tammy Mader (who alternates in the title role with Susan Moniz) delivers an Eva who evolves from glacial good-time girl to no-nonsense dictator. What's missing in her portrayal, and the staging, is the crucial illusion of glamour: in her big Casa Rosada number (here the stage revolves in an attempt to make the crowd look bigger), she seems more petulant than pathetic. Eric Parker gives Che's nonstop spontaneous combustion the usual energy, and the character's tortured lyrics benefit greatly from a very intelligible sound system. Roger Anderson's self-effacing Juan Peron looks grateful just to share the balcony with his wife.


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