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}}

Whether your interest in flamenco gravitates toward the folkloric, the funky or the just plain fun, Miami’s Centro Cultural Español (CCEMiami)’s spunky FlamenGO series is out to pull you in. ..

This week, Peter London Global Dance Company presents the Second Annual Latin and Caribbean Dance Night at the Coral Gables Museum. As a dancer, choreographer and teacher, London’s background..

Contemporary dance has a way of showing us how harmoniously encompassing art can be. That’s what South Florida’s mixed-ability dance troupe Karen Peterson and Dancers (http://www.karenpeterso..

Miami Light Project, one of this city’s most vital performing arts organizations, has long been known for convention-bending work from both local and visiting artists. Its current Wynwood per..

Founded in 1988 in Havana, the DanzAbierta company began under the direction of Marianela Boan. Considered a precursor to Cuba’s avant-garde dance movement, the company was known for its expe..

New Yorkers were still dressed for winter in somber coats and dark sweaters as a mixed crowd from socialite types to teenagers with backpacks filed into the red velvet jewel box for the Joyce..

Dancers are movers and water in nature is almost always moving. The National Water Dance performance brought the two together at the historic Deering Estate on Saturday, April 16, as part of ..

Tigertail’s month-long WATER festival is well under way. The festival highlights water’s multiple aspects and roles in human life, and is the first in a four-year project celebrating all fou..

Like most kids, dancer choreographer Brigette Cormier grew up watching television, and as an adult she still enjoys a show or two. However, in her latest dance work, TV NO, she breaks down th..

If Dale Andree could come back as an animal in her next life, she’d be a seal. The National Water Dance founder and artistic director, a self-confessed “water baby,” has a kinship with H20 an..

“All our sweetest hours fly fastest,” said Virgil. He could have been speaking of Momentum’s Spring Concert: Hearts, Heroes, Humans. Time flew as Delma Iles, artistic director of Momentum Dan..

Augusto Soledade Brazzdance has been active in the Miami dance community since Soledade arrived over 10 years ago. His choreographic style has changed over time, as has his cast of dancers. M..

On March 26, FUNDarte, in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Auditorium and Culture Shock Miami, presented Brazil’s Companhia Urbana de Dança’s second annual performance in Miami. The compa..

For most audiences, the creative process is often a mystery -- the months of intricate planning and experimenting are rarely seen, over shadowed by the polished spectacle of opening night. Th..

The idea for a month-long celebration of water first came to Tigertail Productions’ Executive Director and founder Mary Luft over a year ago, as the issues of rising sea-levels and climate ch..

Were those lovers really dancing underwater or did they find a foothold for their rapture in a mossy grotto? Was that damsel, looping around, somehow tangled up in looming seaweed, or did the..

“Old age ain’t no place for sissies,” Bette Davis once said. No fun either for caregivers when elderly family members withdraw -- whether to treasured memories or in abject despair. For ..

With 34 years of creating modern dance in Miami, Momentum Dance Company’s Artistic Director and Founder Delma Iles shows no sign of slowing down. The company celebrates their anniversary thi..

The Fukushima earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011 displaced millions of people, but brought one home. Japanese-born dancer and choreographer Eiko Otake was working on a site spec..

Brazil’s Companhia Urbana de Dança returns to Miami this weekend with their critically acclaimed fusion of hip hop, capoeira and contemporary dance. Presented by FUNDarte and the Miami-Dade C..

Watching Dance Now! Miami’s celebratory tribute to the José Limón Dance Company’s 70th anniversary, it’s clear Limón’s legacy lives on. The Mexico-born Limón was a pioneer in modern dance, wh..

Of the six separate concerts offered during the ninth annual Flamenco Festival Miami, three featuring individual artists stood out, electrifying the stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center. Each o..

As relations between the United States and Cuba begin to thaw, politicians, businesses, artists, and families are clamoring for ways to both connect and reconnect with the island nation and i..

On a warm moonlit night, those who sink their feet in the sand of the South Florida shore might just come upon a supernatural realm, the sparkle on the whitecaps bright emanations from fairie..

The Limón Dance Company celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, having existed more years without its founder than with him. The company’s survival is an homage to the man and his work. J..

In HOST, the latest project by Pioneer Winter and Jared Sharon, two separate performances occurred. A simple, bare Styrofoam wall was constructed right down the middle of the stage in paralle..

In Act I of Balanchine’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, the mischievous and slightly malicious spirit, Puck, works a spell on the weaver, Nick Bottom. He gives him the head of a donkey and a might..

People often imagine new artwork is the product of the solitary artist genius slaving away in lonely studios. The South Florida Symphony’s 20th anniversary program foregrounds a different vis..

At an age when many are winding down their working lives, Ignacio Berroa eagerly anticipates a new stage in his career. It would be understandable if the 64-year-old drummer, recognized a..

We know it’s the holiday season when trees light up, menorah candles start to burn, ubiquitous Christmas carols pipe through drugstores, “The Nutcracker” plays on every stage – and in recent ..

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..

El segundo programa de la temporada 2017-2018 del Miami City Ballet (MCB) dedicado a los 100 años del nacimiento de Jerome Robbins (1918-1998), el gran coreógrafo norteamericano que triunfó ..

2017 fue un buen año para la danza en Miami. El Flamenco Festival nos permitió volver a ver a Jesús Carmona, el Internacional Ballet Festival of Miami (IBFM) sobrevivió al huracán Irma, Dance..

El Miami City Ballet (MCB) presentó por fin en el Arsht Center la nueva producción de su gran espectáculo navideño, el “Cascanueces” de Tchaikovsky y Balanchine, ahora con diseños origin..

La tradicional temporada de Cascanueces del Miami City Ballet (MCB) tendrá algo nuevo este año. La compañía que dirige Lourdes López ha decidido renovar los diseños de la superproducción que..

El programa que Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami (DDTM) presentó el sábado pasado en su exitoso debut como compañía en residencia del South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center (SMDCAC) y a solo ..

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 ..