“Evita” – ASU Gammage

This review aired on KBAQ December 5, 2013


Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

For “Evita” to work, the performer essaying Eva Peron must be a bigger-than-life dynamic personality.  The recent Broadway revival had that quality in star Elena Roger, a native Argentinean, but the touring version features Caroline Bowman who lacks the snappy exuberance to bring Eva to vibrant life.

Bowman is better by the second act when the pushy and arrogant dynamo slows down from the cancer that killed her at 33.  When she doesn’t have to be the show’s energized Eva, she’s better, but Bowman isn’t the star this musical demands so the production sputters because Eva is never brought to believable life.

The Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice show debuted in 1979 starring Patti LuPone who was a smashing Eva.  It was fascinating to watch LuPone grab the audience and she never let go of them until Eva died.  Not so in this production even though Bowman gives Eva’s final dying days a touch of reality.  Bowman so badly misses Eva’s initial exuberant conviction that there is nothing to contrast with her pitiable end.  Even Eva’s big second act number, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” falls short because Bowman never convinces anyone to follow this Eva.

The musical documents Eva Peron’s life beginning when she was a young woman and started using men to become a legend.  We learn quickly how she blithely discarded men when they could no longer help her achieve the power she craved.

The through-sung musical is a stirring look at Eva’s bizarre world that Argentinean’s ignored.  The thrilling score and the pointed lyrics don’t let Eva escape her loose morals.

The show makes Che Guevara, who apparently never met Eva Peron, a narrator, an observer, and a person who puts Eva in situations where she’s easily criticized.  This production has a great and dominant Che in Josh Young who sings richly and acts with true sincerity so you feel his reported hatred of Eva’s shenanigans.

Sean MacLaughlin has the right sound for Peron but he lacks the mandatory stature to become the strong-willed dictator who woos Argentinean’s to his corrupt political agenda.  Rob Ashford’s spirited dances and Michael Grandage’s never-faltering staging, although re-created by others, keeps the show moving at breakneck speed.

If you’ve seen “Evita” before, you won’t be impressed with the touring version at ASU Gammage.  If you haven’t seen the show previously, it continues through Sunday (December 8).  For tickets, call the ASU Gammage box office at 480-965-6678 or order tickets online at www.asugammage.com.

Grade: C

One Response to ““Evita” – ASU Gammage”

  1. Chris Curcio said:

    Jul 08, 14 at 16:47

    It doesn’t take much time at all. I check the site for comments like yours occasionally and either post them or trash them. Posting the reviews happens when I write the review and before I record them at the radio station and I just delya the actual posting of them until 15 minutes aftert the review has aired on K-BACH.

    Easy, realtively. Just one more thing to do!