How you might feel about this show depends on where you’ve set the bar. Evita, which opened on Thursday night at the Marquis Theatre, has returned to Broadway after thirty years, and the emotions are mixed. Despite being the 1980 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, the show takes a few hits for its content, particularly its lyrics. The show also happens to have won Best Original Score (Andrew Lloyd Webber & Time Rice), Best Book of a Musical (Time Rice), Best Actress in a Musical (Patti LuPone), and Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Mandy Patinkin). It’s a lot to live up to, and the feat may prove too steep.
While Evita didn’t score glowing critical reviews the first time around, it was an audience favorite. And there appears to be a bit of nostalgia in the air. Ms. Elena Roger is no Patti LuPone and she doesn’t try to be. Her Eva Perón is, as Ben Brantly puts it, is “a scrappy, mousy girl who is set apart from the crowd only by pure force of ambition.” She fails to emanate the warmth that explains Eva’s mass appeal, the charisma on which LuPone based her performance. Though, she’s said to be a spectacular dancer and gives a sincere performance, she is a bit underwhelming and not especially inviting.
The box office draw, Ricky Martin, is the biggest puzzle in this production. It’s impossible to tell whether he’s any good, with several critics praising his performances and others downright unimpressed. He’s there and he looks good and that’s really all he needs to do to sells tickets. The show has had a tremendous start at the box office, grossing well over $1M every week. Michael Cerveris gets universally good reviews. He’s solid in a role that doesn’t provide much opportunity to shine.
Evita is directed by Tony Award winner Michael Grandage, with choreography by choreography by Rob Ashford; sets and costumes by Christopher Oram.
Here’s our review round-up and a little bit of Twitter buzz: