Last night TUTS premiered the Tony Award®-winning musical "Evita" at the Hobby Center’s Sarofim Hall. This musical has a rich history since its debut on Broadway over 30 years ago. In 1980, it won seven Tony Awards® and today continues to touch the hearts of audiences with each new performance.
Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics) created another masterpiece that continues to be remembered for their touching and beautiful songs such as “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and “High Flying, Adored”. Touring director Seth Sklar-Heyn reinvents Michael Grandage, directing and Chris Bailey does the touring choreography recreating it from Rob Ashford. The entire production focuses primarily on authenticity. “Evita” is a stage fusion mixing multimedia and traditional staging, which adds intrigue to production. The scenic and costume design by Christopher Oram transformed the stage to create the perfect place for Eva Perón’s story to be told.
“Evita” tells the tragic, gripping story of the woman who would become Eva Perón (Caroline Bowman), following her humble beginnings, rise to the top and ultimate tragic, too soon death. Bowman attempts to find her place among the past greats who have taken on this role before including Elena Roger and Patti LuPone. Like the entire production, focusing on reimagining the original musical, Bowman transforms from Eva Duarte the bright eyed, ambitious young girl to First Lady, Saint and the beloved Eva Perón.
Bowman has such power behind her voice that at times her vocal performances felt a bit pushed unnecessarily, though in tender moments and her vocal performance during the iconic “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” castaway any doubt of her vocal beauty and ability. Her voice is a powerhouse that draws in, amazes, and creates a dynamic that as Eva’s story begins to fade out and she delivers “You Must Love Me” and “Montage”, there will be few dry eyes in the house. Bowman has vulnerability about her on stage and in her voice that these tender, quiet moments tug at the audiences heartstrings.
Bowman is matched on stage sharing the spotlight in both acting and vocals with Josh Young a Tony Award® nominee who portrays Che. In this touring production, the narrator and character of Che is performed as originally intended to portray the lower/working class, man of the people, which seems fitting given Eva’s nature. Che is an ever-changing character throughout the production, mirroring or mocking the emotions and sentiment of the society in Buenos Aires as they attempt to understand Eva as she climbs up the ranks from actress to political figure.
Che offers witty asides about the character and motives of Eva, almost as a conscious of the musical. Young plays Che with just the right amount of spunk to captivate the audience and keep them engaged. Young’s performance and vocals are astonishing as his vocals flawlessly and fearlessly transitions from his lower to upper register. Young has multiple standout performances notably in “High Flying, Adored” and “Rainbow Tour”.
Sean McLaughlin brings to life Colonel Juan Perón, a military climber who is blinded by his love for Eva. Colonel Perón allows Eva to influence the country’s political affairs, which leaves his fellow leaders of the Argentine Army displeased, yet he can’t seem to understand why. McLaughlin commands the stage as he should and portrays the tender, loving husband who like the most of Argentina found themselves under the spell of Eva and her charisma. He shines in the tender moments and audiences mourn with him as he gives a final heartbreaking scream for the loss of his and his country’s beloved First Lady, Eva Perón.
The touring staff has taken creative and artistic risks in creating this production, all of which have more than paid off. Fans of this classic Broadway production can now see a reimagined yet equally brilliant “Evita”, which honors the memory of Eva Perón and all of her influences that are still felt and remembered today. “Evita” is a production that will make audiences fall in love with Eva Perón all over again and will introduce a whole new generation into the life of a woman not to be forgotten by history.
"Evita" runs now May 6-18. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. For ticket information visit www.tuts.com, call 713-558-8887 or come by the box office located at 800 Bagby at Walker (Mon-Fri 10 am-6 pm and Sat-Sun 11 am-4 pm).