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Evita falls flat

The Shakespeare Theatre and American Repertory Theatre's Collaborative production of Evita In Washington DC is as lifeless as the gown they hang above stage.

Last night Dr. S and I attended the opening preview night of the Weber musical. I went in cold, knowing only that Madonna once played the titular role, and that it was something about an Argentinian political coup. My take-away is that the fandom for this production must be nostalgia-driven rather than merit-based.

The current run in DC has little to recommend it, but some things are done very well: the set design is clever and beautiful, and they make excellent practical use of their trapdoor. The tangos are stunning; the femme dancers perform very well throughout.

But so many things were not done well: the masc dancers have not mastered their choreography, or basic rhythm; the mediocrity of their performances was rather surprising. The sound wasn't well balanced for the theatre, and the tracks drowned out the singing. The costume design was uninspiring, and the whole thing felt rather tired.

My biggest impression was that the production was trying to be bigger than it is: it assumes its Broadway grandeur rather than adapting to the theatre and audience around it. Rather than offering interesting directorial choices it reproduces what was successful thirty and forty years ago. It could have offered compelling allusions to contemporary politics; instead, it pandered to old audiences.

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