photo: Richard Termine
By Skip Sheffield
When Caroline Bowman sang a teaser from the musical “Evita” April 8 for a season preview at Kravis Center, I thought maybe I need to see this show again.
Am I glad I did. This is a beautifully realized production of the Tim Rice-Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, running just through April 13 in West Palm Beach.
Caroline Bowman plays the lead role of Eva Peron, second wife of Argentine president Juan Peron.
Eva, known more endearingly as Evita, became an almost mythical character in her short life, and her reputation has only grown since her death from cancer at age 33 on July 26, 1952.
“Evita” began as a concept album in 1976 and was expanded to a stage musical in England in 1978 and year later on Broadway, where in won the Tony Award for Best Musical of 1979.
There have been numerous national tours and regional productions of “Evita” in the years since. It had been about ten years since I last saw the show, so the Kravis on Broadway tour gave me a chance to give it a fresh look.
Carline Bowman is an all-American girl; a product of Penn State University. She has a strong, high-ranging soprano singing voice and she is a great dancer. Moreover she has a natural magnetism befitting the role of alluring, ambitious Eva Peron, who used her seductive charms to work her way up Argentina’s social ladder all the way to the top.
The role was most famously undertaken by Madonna in the 1996 film version.
I think Caroline Bowman is a much better all-around performer, and she has a most impressive musical partner in Josh Young as Che, a revolutionary character and social critic loosely based on Che Guevara, who also serves as narrator. Young’s high tenor voice is sublime. Playing the role of right-wing General Juan Peron is Sean MacLaughlin, whose enthrallment with his second wife Eva eventually became a liability for him with the military and the upper classes.
“Evita” begins solemnly on the day of Eva’s death with a Catholic-sounding “Requiem.” The mood is sharply contrasted with Che’s following rendition of “Oh, What a Circus.”
The song Bowman sang at the preview was the theme song “Buenos Aires,” which captures all the Latin-flavored tango and pasos dobles appeal of this show.
The overall sound and balance between orchestra and singers is among the best I have ever heard at Kravis Center. Each singer is audible individually, which is a huge advantage. The staging is quite grand, especially for the most famous song, “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.”
“Evita” will no doubt visit our area again, but for now this is as good as it gets.
Tickets start at $25. Call 800-572-8471 or go to www.kravis.org.