The Source for Media Coverage of The Arts in Miami.
Articles, reviews, previews and features on dance and music performances and events.
Sign Up
No one logged in. Log in

Actors’ Playhouse Revises “Evita” for its 30th Anniversary


Photo: The cast of “Evita” gets political in the Actors’ Playhouse production at the Miracle Theatre; photo: George Schiavone
Written by: Christine Dolen
Article Rating

Actors’ Playhouse has been a musical powerhouse for much of its history. Launching its 30th anniversary season at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, the company is revisiting some of that history with a new production of a made-for-South Florida favorite: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Evita.”

As it did in 2000 when recent Tony Award winner Rachel Bay Jones starred as Eva Duarte de Perón, Actors’ is presenting the Tony-winning musical in both English (through Nov. 26) and Spanish (Nov. 30-Dec. 17). The large cast, including powerful leads Andrea Pilar as Eva, Eugenio Vargas as Che and Samuel Druhora as Juan Perón, will perform both versions.

The bottom line? Theater lovers who choose to experience this 1978 Lloyd Webber-Rice show – whether for the first time or the 50th, whether in English or Spanish – are in for a treat.

Director David Arisco and his design team utilize 21st century theater technology to tell a story that begins with the announcement of Eva’s death in 1952, then flashes back to explore her route to power alongside Argentine president Juan Perón.

Set designer Gene Seyffer has created a largely blank canvas of stairs and soaring walls with the suggestion of windows and doorways. The playing area gets repeatedly transformed through the work of prop designer-set dresser Jodi Dellaventura and, most notably, via projections by sound-projection designer Shaun Mitchell. Mitchell’s images, which include historical photos, suggest everything from the little nightclub in Junin where a 15-year-old Eva Duarte meets tango singer Agustín Magaldi (Joshua Dobarganes) to the palatial Casa Rosada, where the glamorous and faux humble first lady sings “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from the balcony.

Designer Ellis Tillman has created a vast array of costumes for the 28 adult actors and six children in the cast, and as always, his eloquent artistic work communicates a great deal about place, era and social status. Eric Nelson’s lighting is both sunny and somber, as the story demands.

Collaborating with Arisco, musical director David Nagy leads an eight-piece band which, along with the vocal power of the far larger cast, delivers the richness of Lloyd Webber’s stylistically varied score. Choreographer Ron Hutchins offers his ibrilliant game of musical (rocking) chairs symbolizing Peron’s rise to power on “The Art of the Possible.”

Because “Evita” is almost all music, the show demands performers with great voices – and Arisco has assembled a company that delivers.

The petite Pilar is a warmly charismatic Eva as she conveys the many facets of a woman who was shunned by Argentina’s social and military elite but revered by workers and the impoverished descamisados she championed. Nakedly ambitious, glamorous and finally defeated by the cancer she couldn’t vanquish, Pilar’s Eva is the force of nature the show requires.

As Che, the cynical one-man Greek “chorus” who represents opposition to all things Perón, Vargas sings well but doesn’t have as much ferocity as some who have played the revolutionary inspired by Che Guevara.

Druhora, on the other hand, is an extraordinary Juan Perón. Experienced in opera as well as musical theater, the actor sings Perón’s songs with magnificent command. Striking and significantly taller than Pilar, he shines in a role often eclipsed by the focus on the musical’s title subject.

Also notable are Kelly Ziegler, who delivers the plaintive “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” as Perón’s young mistress, and Dobarganes, who acts and sings very well except during the performance in the Junin club, when he has been directed to play Magaldi as a cheesy lounge singer. Nicole Coffaro, Diana D’Ambrosio, Rodrigo de la Rosa, Brent D. Kuenning, Taylor Hilt Mitchell, Francisco Padura and Brian Varela play key roles in an ensemble brimming with talent.

With its soaring score (arguably the best by Lloyd Webber and Rice) and its focus on a glamorous woman with a carefully shaped image – a woman who would doubtless be daily internet fodder were she alive today – “Evita” remains a musical worth experiencing. Certainly, that’s true of the Actors’ Playhouse anniversary version of the show.

“Evita” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, through Nov. 26 in English (additional matinees 2 p.m. Nov. 11 and Nov. 25); 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30-Dec. 17 in Spanish. Cost:$64 Friday-Saturday, $57 other performances (10 percent senior discount Wednesday-Thursday, $15 student rush tickets 15 minutes before curtain, based on availability); 305-444-9293 or www.actorsplayhouse.org.

 


Leave a comment...
Must be Logged in
No one logged in. Log in
Leave a comment...
Was this helpful?
No Very

Captcha Image

About The writer

{module_webapps,16730,i,{tag_writer_id}}

Promising a night of airiness and ardor, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami will bring “Ballet’s Pointe of Passion” to the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, where the company joins an att..

Great friendships can nurture and prod an artist to make greater work. Think Pablo Picasso and Wifredo Lam, James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Such is also the case fo..

It’s a tall order to present a season as surprising as it is moving, as disturbing as it is delightful. Miami-Dade College’s Live Arts 2017-2018 season -- Ojala/Inshallah: Wishes from the Mu..

It was only a few decades ago that finding a professional, locally produced performance was an aerobic dance in itself. But after the Miami City Ballet (established 1985), the New World Schoo..

A 50th anniversary calls for gold in celebration. But Balanchine’s “Jewels”­—a sublime marriage of music and choreography from 1967—brings Emeralds, Rubies,and Diamonds. Those pre..

When the Limon Dance Company returns to Miami-Dade this weekend, it brings with it the powerful vision of founder José Limon. He was a man deeply concerned about and connected to the humanity..

When Cardi B, with her trademark no-filter attitude, raps in her recent hit “Bodak Yellow” – Now I don’t got to dance/I make money move – she has something to sing about, with her smash hit N..

Despite a packed show schedule, including performing with the Frankfurt Opera in “Rinaldo,” Sarasota native, dancer and choreographer James McGinn had a chance to discuss the upcoming dance-opera ..

Anniversaries usually celebrate the success of a partnership with symbolic gifts of crystal, china, silver and gold. For the Arts Ballet Theater of Florida, the company celebrates 20 years of..

The songs are familiar; the love story is also familiar but made fresh in “On Your Feet!,” the musical biography that comes to Miami this week. The narrative of Emilio and Gloria Estefan meet..

Dance lovers in Miami know that for the past two decades the International Ballet Festival of Miami (IBFM) has made the city in September a magnet for the brightest stars in the world of bal..

Orlando Taquechel, dance critic for two decades at the El Nuevo Herald (and now a contributor to Artburst), will have a book signing and discussion of his new book, “La danza in Miami (1998-..

The name Flamenco conjures the machine-gun snap of heels, arms arched overhead, the flick of red fabric and laser-like glares from beneath the starched black brim of a Cordobes hat. At the ed..

Watching Neri Torres rehearse is a study in focus and concentration. She demonstrates each step with an ease developed from years of immersion in the study and performance of Afro-Cuban ..

Miami-based organization Delou Africa has been the ambassador of African dance and drumming in South Florida for the last 30 years. It started as a performing company, and has since expanded..

Miami Beach’s old city hall on a Thursday evening in June made a surreal set up for anyone familiar with tango’s broody scene -- a large cozy room full of cheerful, laughing, and smiling..

When Ballet Flamenco La Rosa takes to the stage this weekend, it will present a program based on traditions which were handed down through the ages. A program filled with the mysteries of fl..

With every great new love, the beginning is a crucible of extremes – will it endure for decades or permanently scar?The program for Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami’sJuly 8show, “Fiebre: A N..

With a heightened emphasis on “Noise” as an innovative musical genre, this sixth installment of the Miami Performance Festival International (M/P’17), running June 23 to 25, challenges South..

After 17 years as a principal dancer with the esteemed San Francisco Ballet, dancing every major role and style possible, Lorena Feijoo is retiring from that company to embark on a new journe..

Miami choreographer Marissa Alma Nick is a storyteller. Her company Alma Dance Theater brings a particularly female inner world to the stage, through lush and sensual choreography. Nick’s..

Pools are ubiquitous in Miami. They dot the landscape like Jackson Pollock drip paintings. Residents swim or idle the hours away by or in the pool – and dancers of Momentum Dance Company also perf..

May’s “Mujeres” series of strong, multi-faceted, women-focused productions, commissioned for Miami Theater Center’s SandBox space, concludes with Spanish-born dancer-choreographer Carlota Pr..

One could say that Bistoury’s 305 & Havana International Improv Fest, which debuts this Saturday at Miami Theater Center, has been in the works for almost 20 years. In 1999 Cuban-born cho..

The process of creating “Shade,” choreographer Augusto Soledade’s latest full-length work, has been one of remembering and reconfiguring memory to discover new ways of talking about identity ..

Upcoming this week, Tigertail presents choreographer Myriam Gourfink and musician Kasper Toeplitz. Hailing from France, the two will be present for a 3-day residency at Subtropics’ South Beac..

From her home base at 6th Street Dance Studio in Little Havana, longtime Miami dance figure Brigid Baker has been slowly crafting a new performance piece. It’s not conceptual or political like con..

Late last year, on Dec. 20, 2016, Romero Britto and Mark Bryn hosted the Great Artists Series Cocktail Reception at the Britto Fine Art Gallery to celebrate the legendary impresaria, Judy Dru..

Everyone remembers a lost weekend, binge reading a novel whose ending had to wait because the body just gave out. No matter how compelling the story somewhere around the 30th hour the brain s..

Globalization has produced many stories —not all inspiring. But having a Pakistani ensemble become a worldwide sensation by playing Paul Desmond’s immortal “Take Five,” which pianist Da..

When the management of New York’s iconic Apollo Theater approached drummer Gregg Field last year about organizing a concert there in honor of the 100th anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth..

They’ve opened a Chanel fashion show in Havana and been featured in Beyoncé’s visual album for “Lemonade.” The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has danced to their music. Their Florida debu..

There are few artists who have had the impact in their disciplines that guitarist Paco De Lucía had in flamenco. There is a before-and-after De Lucía in flamenco. He expanded the harmonic voc..

Yoli Mayor is a 22-year old Miami native who won over the judges of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” with her power voice (think Adele mixed with Etta James). This weekend, Miami audiences will h..

You might expect something a tad unusual from a jazz band comprised of Bulgarians and Cubans that’s led by the principal percussionist of the Miami Symphony Orchestra. And that’s what you’ll ..

Not everybody who begins a musical career at age three singing in his grandfather’s Pentecostal Church finds his way to the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Soloman Howard did in two short decades...

Hay pocos artistas que han tenido el impacto en sus disciplinas como el guitarrista Paco De Lucía tuvo en flamenco. En este género, hay un antes y después de De Lucía. Expandió el vocabul..

Dance NOW! Miami, la Florida Dance Education Organization (FDEO), Miami Dance Futures y la New World School of the Arts (NWSA) colaboraron el fin de semana pasado para presentar la Daniel Lew..

Esta es una gran noticia para el público amante del ballet en Miami. Tras un paréntesis de diez años en los que solo nos visitó de manera esporádica, la Primera Bailarina mexicana Katia Carra..

Solo hay que aplicar el concepto “seis grados de separación” a uno de los artistas que se han presentado en las Galas de Estrellas del Festival Internacional de Ballet de Miami (IBFM por sus ..

El debut de Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami (DDTM) en noviembre del año pasado fué un acontecimiento artístico y un descubrimiento sumamente agradable. Una sola función en el Miami-Dade Cou..

El festival “Out in the Tropics”, patrocinado por Fundarte en conjunto con el Centro Cultural Español y el Miami Book Fair International, normalmente trae artistas del mundo LGBTQ e hispanoha..

La Gala anual de Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami (CCBM) es un evento que esperan con ansiedad los aficionados al ballet en Miami y, sobre todo, los admiradores del estilo cubano. Desde su deb..

El 11 y 12 de mayo próximo tendrá lugar en el Miami -Dade County Auditorium el estreno en Estados Unidos de Scrutiny: The World Gone Astray(en español,Escrutinio: El mundo se ha ido a la deri..

Para el pianista y compositor cubano Omar Sosa la noción de una cultura global, sin fronteras, no es un concepto abstracto sino un tema personal. En su música, elementos de hip hop y rumba, ..