This review of The Gallery Players' production of Evita was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 5 (2015) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Directed by Mark Harborth
The Gallery Players
199 14th Street, Brooklyn, NY
Reviewed 5/1/15 at 8:00 p.m.
Evita is a musical about the life of Argentine political leader Eva Duarte de Peron, the First Lady of Argentina (wife of Argentine President Juan Peron), who was known as the "Spiritual Leader of the Nation." Originally released as a rock opera concept album in 1976, the musical opened with Elaine Paige as Eva (the affectionate Spanish language diminutive of which is Evita) at the Prince Edward Theatre in London's West End on June 21, 1978 closing on February 18, 1986 after 3,176 performances. This West End production won Olivier Awards for Best New Musical and Best Performance in a Musical (Elaine Paige). After debuting at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, the Broadway production of Evita opened with Patti LuPone as Eva at the Broadway Theatre on September 25, 1979 closing on June 26, 1983 after 1,567 performances. This production won many Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book of a Musical. The 1996 film of Evita starred Madonna as Eva Peron. On June 2, 2006, the first major London production of Evita in 20 years opened in the West End at the Adelphi Theatre with Argentine actress Elena Roger as Eva. Roger received an Olivier Award nomination for her performance but the show closed on May 26, 2007 after a run of less than 12 months. A Broadway revival of the 2006 West End production of Evita opened on April 5, 2012 at the Marquis Theatre with Elena Roger in the title role and Ricky Marin as Che. The production was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival but it closed on January 26, 2013 after 337 performances. A second West End Revival opened on September 22, 2014 for a limited run at the Dominion Theatre with Madalena Alberto as Eva Peron.
If you are a fan of this musical or somehow missed seeing it during the past four decades, I strongly recommend you catch this outstanding production of Evita at The Gallery Players sometime before May 17, 2015. Directed by Mark Harborth, you will get the full experience of this inspirational, thought-provoking musical about power, social injustice, personal ambition, corruption, ego and "the art of the possible." The large company of actors are all superbly talented. Dale Sampson was surprisingly refreshing in the role of Che. Jonathan D. Mesisca carried off a convincing Juan Peron, with genuine sympathy and love for his wife Eva. Glen llanes almost sang too well in the role of Augustin Magaldi for us to believe his audiences weren't pleased with his act. Monica Bradley gave a moving performance as Peron's last mistress singing "Another Suitcase In Another Hall" but she could have used a little more vocal projection. Carman Napier as Eva Peron is certainly a competent actress and singer who tried the best she could, but I wasn't captivated or emotionally moved by her performance. In addition, the reverberations and echoes added to some of her speeches turned out to be more annoying than authentic. The standout actor in the ensemble, who also is the understudy for Che, is Hubbard Farr. Powerful, talented, good-looking and charismatic, Mr. Farr has a strong stage presence and an impressive voice. He has all it takes to make it big in show business and I encourage him to do whatever he needs to in order to make the contacts to get the recognition he deserves. As for the "descamisados" (the "shirtless ones" of the labour movement), they must have chosen to wear shirts during the labour rallies that were depicted in this production. Very few "shirtless ones," if any, were in view.
The Gallery Players, a volunteer-run community theatre in Park Slope now in its 48th season, won the Beaux Arts Society's Leonardo daVinci Award for Best Community Theatre in 2013. Many of its productions are top-notch and offer the public quality theatre at an extremely affordable price. For tickets and further information about The Gallery Players, visit www.galleryplayers.com