Theater Review: Evita on Broadway
As far as sure things go, it would seem that the combination of Broadway, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and a pair of tickets in the orchestra section would be a slam-dunk. We all know that New York City’s Broadway-level productions are some of the best in the world when it comes to theatre performances. And can you really go wrong with a Broadway production of one of the most compelling stories in modern theatre?
As it turns out, you can.
As we settled into our roomy seats in the luxurious Marquis Theatre, located on the second floor of Marriott Marquis Hotel, we noticed that the theatre was completely full, despite the so-so reviews that this production of Evita has received from critics. After all, Ricky Martin plays the part of Che, and a popular recording artist is a surefire way to put butts in seats, even on a Tuesday night. He did, in fact, elicit a huge response from the crowd the moment he appeared onstage in the opening scene—people love a handsome pop star, and boy is he ever handsome.
It became apparent as soon as he opened his mouth, however, that Ricky Martin is much more suited for pop music than show tunes. Although he hit every note, his voice just doesn’t have enough oomph. He has plenty of stage presence, but the fact that his voice is, frankly, puny compared to all the other male actors made it apparent that he was cast for his star power rather than his vocal power. This play is entirely sung, which makes his weakness in this area particularly glaring.
Unfortunately, the same is true of Elena Roger, the Argentine actress who plays Eva. Her singing is alternately underwhelming—not something you expect on Broadway—and unpleasant. Her voice, like Martin’s, just doesn’t have the power that the role demands. Though she had moments that were very good—namely during quieter duets with the excellent Michael Cerveris who plays Peron–much of her singing is both nasal and screechy. In addition, her stage presence is not equivalent to the role—she just doesn’t, as my kids like to say, “bring it.”
Beyond the vocal failings of the two leads, this production of Evita is terrific. The sets are beautiful, the music is stunning, and the supporting cast absolutely belongs on a Broadway stage. (Which makes me think they should let Roger’s understudy have a crack.) We hummed the music for days afterward, and I may or may not cop to belting “Don’t cry for me Argentinaaaaaa…” in the shower once or twice. But if I had spent the kind of money that Broadway tickets typically cost, especially for orchestra tickets, I would have been one unhappy customer. Until and unless the leads are changed, I cannot recommend this show. Broadway and off-Broadway abound with worthier productions.
Review by Laurie Junkins, fellow Girl Gone Travel and contributing writer.