Saturday the 2nd we were still getting over a chocolate hangover from the Sardi’s dessert the night before, but my husband and I were excited to meet up with the in-laws and friends for lunch at Maison, and then to see “Evita” on Broadway! Maison is a French bistro-breakfast-lunch restaurant which invokes “the coastal flavors of Brittany“…whatever that means. The food is delicious (I had the Eggs Normandy: eggs benedict with lox), and the little beignets (basically little doughnut holes in a traditional French style) were hard to resist (I had half of one…good girl!). The only issue was that the staff seemed hilariously/traditionally “French” in that they were slow to get more coffee to us in a timely manner. Ah well. But that seemed insignificant to the treat I was about to get: finally seeing “Evita” on Broadway.
Not pictured: bacon…yes, I had bacon too!
WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS FOLLOW!
I have to preface everything I type from here on out in this blog entry to state that I have an emotional connection to this particular Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical. I played Eva in High School, with fabulous costumes rented from the San Jose Opera Company, a great simple stage made on the gym floor at Bishop O’Dowd High School, and sang to a midi orchestra since the score was way too hard for our little high school band to play. So, needless to say, I knew the entire score (with some updates) word-for-word and was breathlessly thrilled to finally see it on the Great White Way, the Big Apple of New York. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. Ricky Martin, while not playing the historically-accurate “Che,” did his part well and while he doesn’t have the strongest vocals, he didn’t fall flat and kept the energy going. We saw the alternative Eva – which initially made me curse a bit since I was hoping to see Elena Roger – but the alternate Christina DeCicco had a flawless voice and a fiery and youthful take on Eva that did not disappoint.
And then there was Michael Cerveris…ohhhhhh Michael. I saw him perform the title character in “Tommy” in San Francisco about 20 years ago, and since then he has aged gracefully and beautifully into a whole new vocal part and casting zone. His voice is gorgeous, his passion as Peron was a great choice, and I got the connection between Peron & Eva as powerful business partners yet a loving couple. I loved the sets, which were huge and gorgeous and allowed some great double-tiered storytelling. The choreography was Argentinian and hot, and I loved certain touches in the direction that I wouldn’t have expected (during “A New Argentina” it was great to see the men walking by and dropping in their votes, while the women alternately just looked longingly at the voting box). I could have done without the video montage in the very beginning, which wasn’t needed to set the political and emotional stage of the flashback, but it was a minor flaw.
The front curtain with real portraits of Peron & Eva
The Mistress and Magaldi had fabulous voices – they’re often the most overlooked roles, but are wonderful and meaty and they did nice things with their solos that could have become just an excuse for the leads to take a break (but didn’t). And I noticed that whoever reduxed the orchestrations and score of the show made incredibly smart cuts – instead of cutting songs and scenes and dialogue, he or she removed interstitial music, tiny beats, and minor transition music that may have dragged the entire show to a longer running time. Even music between verses were cut in half, but the direction allowed moments to happen organically even as the music was reduced. I only recognized it because I had the original Elaine Page version and my own experience rattling around in my head. And while the ending is still weird and abrupt and awkward, they dealt with Eva’s hallucination and “death scene” in a fresh way.
All in all, my praise of the show may be high because they didn’t ruin it, they told the story with all the elements intact, and they did so with an enhanced passion for this controversial woman’s life.
Outside in the Merchandise section, even the mannequins wanted to be Eva
Coming up: “Spider-Man,” overindulgence, SciCafe, and more overindulgence (someone get my gym membership on the phone…stat!)