Evita Revival Recap

The American Repertory Theater (ART) in Cambridge has brought numerous shows to Broadway – including the Tony-winning Porgy and Bess and Pippin.  Whether their current revival of Evita ends up on the Great White Way remains to be seen.  I’m always grateful to hear this score – despite the Muzak-esque orchestrations that have plagued most productions since the otherwise revelatory UK revival of 2009.  While the physical production has merits (including a sumptuous opening to Act 2), a little neon goes a long way.  The choreography is terrific and fills in some of the gaps of the story (including a lurid rape scene reminiscent of Aldonza in Man of La Mancha).  Still, there is a cool detachment pervading the entire show.  The best all-around performance came from Perón himself, Caesar Samayoa.  His mistress, Naomi Serrano, scored with her brief but heartfelt moment in the sun. 

I’ve criticized virtually every production of Evita I’ve seen for casting someone with a little pipsqueak voice in the title role.  ART’s Shereen Pimentel has no such problem.  On a scale of one to ten, her performance hovers around a 15.  It’s always 11 o’clock for Shereen!  And that’s a problem.  There is a sizeable lack of nuance and finesse in her portrayal.  The 25-year-old has an impressive vocal instrument, but it’s all very one-note – aside from the last 10 minutes, which shows she has range.  While “You Must Love Me” is a nice tune, it’s always felt out of place in this score – and was clearly written for an Evita with no high notes.  Having Che modeled less on Guevara himself and more as a follower of Perón on his own journey is a fascinating idea, and one that Omar Lopez-Cepero (and his double) execute well.  As a singer, he makes little presence and is a few notes shy on either end of the role’s range.  This is not without precedent.  Ricky Martin had the same problem in the 2012 Broadway revival, but had enough charisma to compensate.  All in all, this production has merit – but I’m not sure if it has enough to merit a Broadway revival.  It closes in Cambridge (AmericanRepertoryTheater.org) on July 30th and plays the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington D.C. (ShakespeareTheatre.org) September 5th through October 8th.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Copying content from BillyMasters.com is prohibited