Evita: A Very Short Review

by Brenda W. Clough

TPTSB_Evita_400x400 This warhorse of the musical theater was revived in 2012 on Broadway and is now on tour. I caught it at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. I have seen the movie, which is a different and IMO a lesser work, but for some reason have never seen the stage musical until now.

And wow, what a perfect musical this is! As Hal Prince famously said of it, how can you go wrong with a work that begins with a funeral? And biographical material has a natural through line that is very congenial. Meanwhile, the score is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best, blending pop with Latin and tango rhythms.

In case you have not noticed up to this point, I am a musical theater fan. I have listened to the entire score, which does indeed comprise just about the entire stage show, since it is sung-through, like an opera — there are hardly any spoken ‘book’ scenes. And what I notice, seeing it on stage for the first time, is the important contribution of staging and dance. It’s not just words and music. The thing comes to life on the stage, which is the insignia of all true drama. You get only a pale ghost of Shakespeare, reading the plays. You need to see it performed.

Evita is a particularly good show for tango dancing and the translation of political conflict into dance and movement. But it is also famous for the use of historical newsreel footage — crowd scenes, Argentine political rallies and so forth. This is especially nicely done at the beginning, with huge movies of Evita Peron’s funeral; they somehow manage to get the black-and-white photographic images large enough so that the actors, standing in front of the picture, are the same size — part of the historical crowd.

My favorite song is not the usual “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.” It is the last song, “Eva’s Lament,” the apologia for her life. A perfect book song, and I am so glad to have heard it in its dramatic context.

The ebook version of my novel How Like a God is now available from Book View Cafe.

How Like a God, by Brenda W. CloughMy newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out from Book View Café.

I also have stories in Book View Café’s two steampunk anthologies, The Shadow Conspiracy and The Shadow Conspiracy II, as well as in BVC’s many other anthologies, including our latest, Beyond Grimm.

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Evita: A Very Short Review — 3 Comments

  1. I got about half way through the musical (movie version) and stopped watching–unlike me, because I have been a fan of musical theatre and musicals generally since I can remember. I can’t even remember what stopped me in my tracks. Maybe this is a show I would like on stage?

    • It is very different on stage, and IMO the Madonna version is a travesty, nothing like. See it on a big stage if you can — this is not your bandbox musical. It calls for the masses in the audience.

  2. Why is tango not a latin rhythm? In reality of course, what it is based upon is the habanera, which is Afro Latin, but nevermind the crank.