Don’t wait to see Argentina!

CMPAC’s production of ‘Evita’ makes fairy tale of fascism


In a blockbuster of a musical, the CM Performing Arts Center’s production of “Evita” conjures the drive of a nation, the charisma of a star, and the foreboding sense of the revolutionary in its paradoxically grand and intimate telling of Argentina’s first lady.

Director Ronald R. Green III envisioned a spectacular showcase of talent harnessed by the human truths that lead the action and anchor the performance.

Lyrically and musically, “Evita” packs soliloquies and speeches in mere beats of a song, but the elocution and direction of the performers managed to land every brutal insult and punchline.

Although a static scene, stage manager John Mazzarella managed to carve out every nook and cranny to represent different eras and geographical locations of Argentina, the passive main character of this epic story.

As Green also served as costumer, a role he has played for nearly every production at CMPAC with great flair and attention to detail, the wardrobe for “Evita” evoked the changing times of the eras, and in scenes where characters change clothing or dress/disrobe on-stage, the chrysalis effect is so profound that every scene could be a tableau in an art museum.

Lighting by John Vaiano set the atmosphere perfectly with rich taupes and peaches for the people and ice-white light for the upper-class and balcony scenes.

Choreographer Kevin Burns had his work cut out for him with big, dynamic ensemble work that was executed flawlessly and intricately, with staccato foot placements and duets where characters melted into one.

Laura Laureano, who answers the question, “What if Lady Gaga really is Madonna and could play Evita again?” was dazzling and powerful in the title role. Her transformation from cast-aside outside child with an axe to grind against the middle-class to Dior-clad icon was truly magical and a feast for the senses. Her vocal approach through the journey of her character is coquettish at first, bold and powerful at her peak, and then quiet and reposed towards her death.

Giovanni Marine as Che was so probing and alternately erudite and shrewdly sarcastic in his view of Eva Duarte Peron, the audience could feel his frustration and disillusionment with Evita through his profound and devastatingly observant performance. With the piercing eyes beckoning a revolt, Marine captivated with his broad voice and exacting delivery.

Jon Rivera as Peron, a character ironically crafted in reticence to the shining star of Evita, gave a dignified portrayal of a quasi-dictator and also conveyed as love and admiration of the leading lady that was poignant and heartfelt. Rivera’s voice was commanding and in line with his character, but also a loving husband, which was unique to his interpretation.

As an infectious tango master, Steven Charles as Magaldi, was able to paint a fading star ultimately supplanted by a much more powerful man. Charles’s charisma as Magaldi was tremendous and intoxicating as he dominated the stage with his performance. In a scene where Charles has his full back to the audience, his body language and shoulder angles are so stark that he almost seems like a comic book character from the ‘90s who is equal parts villain and hero.

After a stunning opening night, audiences are in for a whirlwind of an evening with “Evita.” 


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