MTG's fine Evita is the culmination of much hard work
By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
MIT Musical Theatre Guild.
Directed by Nelson Sharfman '91.
Music Director, Louis Toth '89.
Kresge Little Theatre.
Last performances tonight and tommorrow.
By SHANNON MOHR
MTG's Evita -- the culmination of much hard work by a talented cast and crew -- is a hit. The Lloyd Webber/Rice musical gets a fine performance: and that goes for the singing, acting, and dancing, too.
The plot revolves around the life of Eva Duarte Peron, the wife of one of Argentina's most notorious dictators.
Eva's initial claim to fame was her career in drama and song, but she rose to the height of political power through many love affairs and her eventual marriage to Juan Peron. Through her exceptional qualities as an organizer and leader, Eva effectively rallied the support of the Argentinian descamisados -- or shirtless ones -- behind Peron and their position within the government.
One of the most interesting twists and probably most confusing part of the musical is the presence of the Cuban communist leader Che Guevara as the narrator of Evita's biography and one of her major sources of opposition. The comparison of the two Latin American leaders is subtle, but the difference is clear.
Eva's platform for the people is glamour, money, and beauty. Guevara's world consists of violence, war, and struggle.
Eva's utopian world begins to fade with her failing health. When she "passes into immortality" at the end of the play, her people continue to regard her as a saint and beloved leader, despite the fact that Argentina had been bankrupt for years and had begun to ration food.
Karen Maureen Wagner plays Evita almost perfectly. She has a wonderful, strong voice and she is one of the few singers whose voice can rise above full orchestra. Her performance of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," one of the more famous songs, was particularly touching. Wagner is a charismatic actress and essential to the play's appeal.
As Che, Michael Friedhoff G is also superb. His rendition of "Oh What a Circus" is extremely good. His voice, almost rock-like and very strong, provides the essential contrast to Wagner's glamour, thereby extending the Che/Eva conflict. His acting skills are excellent as he portrays the disillusioned and sarcastic Guevara.
Daniel G. Trippett as Magaldi is humorous as the stereotypically slimy tango singer in his solo number "On This Night of a Thousand Stars." Trippett joins other members of the cast in the excellent chorus.
Those in the chorus to take particular note of are the "Competing Generals," and Peron's mistress played by Janet Ann Licini '92. The chorus does very well in the dance numbers under the choreography of Debbie Kulik '90. I especially enjoyed the "Buenos Aires" number in which the dancing takes on a Latin taste.
One of my favorites was "The Art of the Possible" in which the generals -- including Juan Peron, played by Bob Amini '92 -- vie for the dictatorship by knocking each other out. Amini succeeds in outlasting the other generals and is consistently good throughout the play.
The orchestra, led by director Louis Toth '89, handles the difficult score very well; it was one of the best musical orchestral performances I have heard. The music, however, sometimes tended to drown out some of the soloists so that it was impossible to hear the lyrics understandably (many of the instruments were electric and loud).
Under the direction of Nelson Sharfman '91, MTG does a fine rendition of "Evita." The entire cast and staff have obviously contributed to the success of this famous Broadway show.