EVITALyrics by Tim Rice, Music by Andrew Lloyd Weber
Director – Neale Whitmore
Musical Director – Shane Hurst
Choreographer – Kelly Holmes
Stage Manager – Katie Dedman Radke
Set Design – Neal Whitmore
Costume Designer – Dallas Costume Shoppe
Wigs and Hair – Logan Broker
Announcer – Josh Hepola
Peron – Darret Hart
Che – Aaron Gallagher
Eva – Rebecca Paige
Magaldi – Chris Edwards
Eva’s Family – Tiffany Hopper, Mike Spitters, Chelsea Wolfe
Magazine Man – Jordan Poladnik
Model – Kendra Rinaldi
Photographer – Joel Jenkins
Radio Man – Daniel Dean Miranda
President – Josh Hepola
Officers – Aaron Sanders, Mike Spitters, Scott Walker
Tango Dancers – Kendra Rinaldi
Mistress – Emily-Kate Ivey
Servants – Daniel Dean Miranda, Jordan Poladnik, Trisha Romo
Soldiers – Aaron Sanders and Scott Walker
Butlers – Daniel Dean Miranda, Jordan Poladnik, Aaron Sanders, Scott Walker
Admiral – Josh Hepola
Society Ladies – Robin Koford, Nicole Palmer, Kendra Rinaldi, Rachel Wilkins
Little Girl – Madison Verre
Ensemble – Chris Edwards, Josh Hepola, Tiffany Hopper, Joel Jenkins, Robin Koford, Daniel Dean Miranda, Nicole Palmer, Jordan Poladnik, Kendra Rinaldi, Trisha Romo, Aaron Sanders, Mike Spitters, Scott Walker, Rachel Wilkins, Chelsea Wolf
Reviewed Performance: 6/3/2017
Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
As a set designer, Neale Whitmore makes interesting choices. He previously directed The Last 5 Years at Theatre Frisco and included in that design a large game wheel. For Evita, he has chosen a multi-leveled platform upstage with playing areas Stage Right, Stage Left, and Center, while leaving a large open space down stage for dancing. This is smart. It provides plenty of playing areas for quick transitions as well as a variety of looks.
As a director, however, the large open space became Whitmore’s main drawback in the show. With most of the show happening so far upstage, creating great distance from the audience to the performers, Whitmore doesn’t fill the downstage void. There are plenty crowd scenes where the ensemble is kept in the audience entrance ways instead of taking advantage of the performance space.
Kelly Holmes choreography, on the other hand, creates beautiful, full scenes for “Buenos Aires,” “Peron’s Latest Flame,” and “And the Money Kept Rolling In.” Holmes demonstrates great skill in creating choreography that looks great, incorporating several lifts and twirls for leading lady Rebecca Paige, while not overwhelming less movement inclined performers.
Costumes from the Dallas Costume Shoppe are outstanding for this production. Rebecca Paige, as Eva, has several outfits that convey the fashion of Eva Peron while being visually stunning, including her black dress in “I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You” and a red ensemble for “Waltz for Eva and Che” and “You Must Love Me.” The Ensemble, representing the common people of Argentina, have wonderful appropriate to the era simple dresses and slacks, shirts, and suspenders. Even the lower ranking military characters have fine drab green outfits that look like they were lifted from an old pictorial spread in TIME magazine.
Musically, I’m sure most of us know, Evita is a challenging show, with many odd rhythms and vocal note jumps. Under the tutelage of Shane Hurst, another return from last season’s The Last Five Years, the cast navigates the score nearly flawless. There is some struggling to find or hit the correct note in the most extreme areas of “Peron’s Latest Flame” from the male ensemble. Nevertheless, Rebecca Paige, Aaron Gallagher, Darren Hart, Emily-Kate Ivey, and Madison Verre are all exceptional in their roles.
Taking on the role of Eva Peron for the second time in 20 months, Rebecca Paige expertly portrays the leading lady. Her voice is one of the finest in the Dallas-Ft. Worth theatre scene and she possesses a wealth of experience she draws from to enrich the character. Her performance of “You Must Love Me,” although confusingly directed as a prayer, is a pure show stopper and quite touching, while her power and sincerity are breathtaking in “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and “A New Argentina.”
The antagonizing character of Che is played by Aaron Gallagher, who brings a bitter sarcastic attitude to the role. Gallagher’s vocal performance is strong and clear and, at times, surprising as in the high notes he emits during “And the Money Kept Rolling In.” As the sometimes referred to “spirit of Argentina” Greek chorus, the disillusion of the Argentine people after the Peron administration is palpable with each lyric.
Darret Hart does a good job portraying Juan Peron. Although it is difficult to pick a notable piece of the performance, he sings the part admirably. He also portrays the duality of the complex role, with Peron’s shifting allegiances, well.
Emily-Kate Ivey plays Peron’s mistress, displaced by the incoming Eva. The scene is short but memorable with the play between Paige and Ivey and then Ivey’s performance of “Another Suitcase in Another Hall.” Her vocal quality is a little more pop-like than previously seen performances, and that is somewhat ill fitting with the rest of the performances in the show. However, it is a remarkable rendition.
Finally, 10 year-old Madison Verre captivates the audience and tugs their heartstrings with her performance of “Santa Evita.” Also, seeing how she’s worked into scenes and dances is fun throughout the show.
Theatre Frisco provides a thoroughly entertaining night of theatre with Evita. The solid casting and great direction make it a show worth seeing. The show only runs for two more weekends and I’m sure performances will sell out quickly, so get your tickets soon.
BLACK BOX THEATER
FRISCO DISCOVERY CENTER
8004 NORTH DALLAS PARKWAY
FRISCO, TX 75034
Runs through June 18th
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM; with matinees Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 PM
Tickets are $14 for Students and Active Duty Military, $20 for Seniors (60+) and Veterans, and $22 for Adults.
For information, go to http://www.theatrefrisco.com or call 972-370-2266.