About a month ago, I spotted an ad in our local paper that the folks over in Sag Harbor and their Bay Street Theater were going to bring back Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita which by the way makes more money for him than any of his shows including Phantom of the Opera or Cats. Well, I have always loved the show and said I’m going to go even though there was is no way a tiny theater like Bay Street could ever do it justice.
Well, it opened the other night with more or less an unknown cast and it was (and I hate the word) marvelous. In fact, it was so good that when it finishes its just extended run on September 2nd the producers should think about moving the whole show with its 15 or so performers to an off-Broadway house (or even a Broadway theater) where it could run for a long time.
Evita, as you probably know, portrays the life story of Eva Duarte who begins life as a lady of the evening, ends up marrying Juan Perón, the President of Argentina and spends her life taking care of others with her various charities. That’s all you really need to know when you watch the production which is performed in and on a one set tango bar in Argentina with a really good 6 piece combo in the back that sounds much bigger than it really is. It looks to me that the entire original script has been followed and, with a few minor exceptions, is exactly what I saw with Patti LuPone and Bob Gunton back in 1979. What’s really key here is the staging done by the director Will Pomerantz. He has flawlessly put the scenes and musical numbers together. To be able to put together a show of this magnitude on a pint-sized stage is truly amazing.
I have no idea where they found the cast but it’s amazing that the producers were able to pull together a group where each man or woman is more than good. Che, who in the original production was Mandy Patinkin, is played by Trent Saunders who does not narrate the show as was done in the original production but merely comments on what is going on. Maybe he jumps around a tad too much but it is his life he’s risking! Kyle Barisisch as Magaldi who is more or less is Evita’s early manager/pimp is excellent but it’s the two stars, Evita and Juan who, (now this is hard to believe) in real life, are getting married sometime after the show ends. Arianna Rosario is almost perfect as Eva but it was Omar Lopez-Cepero that blew me away. I closed my eyes and his voice was identical to the star of the original show. Pitch perfect!
The hard workers in this show are the great chorus of what looks to be 25 members, in reality it way less, who are seen on stage in just about every scene and the prop lady was the busiest of all using more hats than a mad hatter!
Then, of course, there’s the music and I can only include my favorites. On This Night Of A Thousand Stars, Another Suitcase, High Flying, Adored, Rainbow High, And The Money Kept Rolling In and of course Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. I doubt many of you can hum more than one of these, but I can and I love them.
Please make an effort if you are out here on the East end to go see this show. It certainly is the best production the Bay Street producers have ever brought us. Make a night out of it. American Hotel (right next door for cocktails and a discounted pre-theater dinner, the show and ice cream afterward. Your whole evening, believe me, will be simply splendid.