People of Silicon Valley, your newly appointed (temporary) critic, Paxton (the 3 legged cat)…
Humans, I know what you are thinking, you are thinking, “Paxton, you are a cat.” You are also thinking “You didn’t even SEE Evita, because they don’t let cats into such places, even in liberal San Jose, so how could you be qualified to tell us what we want to know about the Broadway San Jose production?” But, you see, I am a cat of the people, and Susannah, well, she thinks she is a Princess, owns several tiaras and walks around like she is addressing her people from a balcony more often than not. She clearly has some sort of an affliction or complex. She also has what could be described as a near obsession with this show and is therefore incapable of producing an unbiased review. Therefore, for the good of the theatre-going community, I have commandeered this blog. I have taken it upon myself to review this show, because you are owed an uncorrupted review. You deserve a translator who can narrate the truth and deliver you an opinion untainted by the glittering lights of theatrical spectacle and by someone who does NOT know all the words to the show and has never once fallen in love/lust with an Argentinian. I have taken the liberty of providing you with Susannah’s absurd transcript verbatim for posterity and will presently remove the ridiculous bias from it in the sections marked “Paxton.”
Susannah: Oh, don’t you just love this music? So much passion, so much fire and so much ambition in the score and lyrics! I would have loved to see Ricky Martin play this role. If I had been born with any musical talent, I would TOTALLY have played Eva to his Che. Totally. I’m going to be humming this all week. Who am I kidding, I’m singing it right NOW!
Paxton: While no one blew me completely out of the water vocally (nor with their acting), everything was strongly sung and the orchestra was exceptional. The soundsand balance was spot on (the last few shows have been really loud and proved challenging so this was a great relief) and the body mics were hardly noticeable at all. Depending on your personal taste and your relationship (if any) to the original Broadway version (or even the film) you may like this darker, somewhat seedier, heavier and arguably more Argentinian version or you may find it too abrasive and sharp. Che has a bit more to do, but it didn’t seem to bring that much more to the show overall or to his character arc. It could be argued this revival added some South American flavor, but not enough to make it truly different or make a strong enough statement. While the real video and photographic footage used drove home the political and historical components of the piece, we never lost sight of the real personal story of Evita’s ambition, charisma and rise and fall which was captivating and well executed across the board.
Susannah: Boy that first act flew by.
Paxton: While the score has been “tangoed up” and made slower in many places, the transitions wasted no time in getting us to the next scene/location/song, hardly allowing the audience any time to applaud (not a bad thing at all) and hardly giving the actors any time to breathe (though they danced number after dance number and not one person on that stage ever showed any signs of being tired). The staging was quite clever and made use of the space nicely while moving us through the first scenes with smooth, flowing, pretty movement. Not unlike Evita’s lovers, we are swept through a quick first half with a lot to absorb up front before we find ourselves amidst the less frenzied second act which has an entire song sung sitting on the floor and does so packing more punch at a whisper than even the iconic hand gesture (which I have to say felt a bit anti climactic) from atop the balcony does.
Susannah: OMG, the lights! *gasp* oh stunning! So amazing, magic, just magic! I’d totally hire the light designer to light me, you know, as I walk around the city and stuff. They made stuff look even MORE awesome. Woot.
Paxton: Okay, that statement is actually relatively accurate. Visually, the lighting really deserved its own bow. Playing well with the set, costumes and the afore-mentioned staging the resulting effects from precise and creative lighting design literally took every frame and made it a masterpiece. Freeze at any moment and you would have had something to hang on your wall. Shadows, silhouettes, down light, warmth, depth, flawless spotlight execution, really astounding from every angle. Soft through haze one moment and crispy beams that stretch the entire height of the stage the next, it was fabulously exciting. How they were able to illuminate only the white handkerchiefs during a crowd scene is well, magical. The opening sequence was so lovely it really set the bar for the whole show, adding an extra layer of emotion to the storytelling that was much appreciated.
Susannah: 555555! Best show ever! The tourism board for Argentina should pay a royalty, because everyone who sees this show is going to want to run off to Buenos Aries!
Paxton: Not everyone wants to be or marry a dictator, but still 4 ½ jewels out of 5 in the review tiara. Aside from its decidedly noticeable lack of cats anywhere in this production, 3 legged or otherwise, it is certainly a beautiful piece visually, admirably performed musically and takes us through a compelling story with a little humor and huge passion. Undeniably entertaining this may be the highlight of the season for at least one local “dictator” we know and pretend to love through our general tolerance of her. Evita plays through Sunday, November 24th and the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.