In this new production, Evita is played by Argentinian Elena Roger. Ms. Roger has played the role in London's West End. Her Evita is aloof. She is most connected when belting out the show's tuneful score. Unfortunately, Roger's singing voice has a shrillness to it. She doesn’t have the power in her voice that the original Evita, Patti LuPone, did.
Pop-star Ricky Martin is the show's narrator, Che, the voice of the people. Martin gives Che a pop-star veneer with an intensely earnest performance. He handles the vocal requirements of the role with ease but it looks like every move he makes has been finely choreographed for him (even the hand gestures, and there were a lot of them.) Martin is no stranger to Broadway, he previously starred as Marius in Les Misérables.
As Gen. Juan Perón, Broadway veteran Michael Cerverus gives a solidly acted and well sung performance.
Max von Essen is Magaldi, a night-club singer (in real life he was rumored to have traveled with Evita, though this has been disputed.) von Essen has a beautiful tenor voice and was pitch-perfect singing the stratosphere-reaching “On This Night of a Thousand Stars.” Rachel Potter plays Perón’s mistress who Evita throws out with “Hello and good-bye, I’ve just unemployed you.” Ms. Potter has a lovely voice that did justice to “Another Suitcase In Another Hall.”
Michael Grandage has beautifully staged this production. Grandage takes advantage of the impressive scenic design of Christopher Oram and the lighting design of Neil Austin to paint pictures on stage. Oram’s set creates a feel of the Casa Rosada with its arched windows, and Austin’s dramatic top and back-lighting set the mood. Oram also designed the show’s costumes which nicely completed the picture. Rob Ashford’s choreography is inspired by the native dance of Argentina, the tango.
Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Cullen’s lush orchestrations were beautifully played by the large orchestra under the direction of Kristen Blodgette. With 19 members in the orchestra, it’s large by today’s standards. The sound of this orchestra playing one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most inspired scores is worth the price of admission alone. Add to that the physical beauty of this production, the fine vocals of the chorus and the creative choreography and you have a very good reason to go see Evita.