Theatre Thursdays: ‘Evita’ New Broadway Cast Recording Review

The cast recording for the current Broadway revival of Evita has hit shelves and I bought my copy last Friday which means I get to review it for you! (Well, it started out as a review then kinda became stream-of-consciousness writing of my feelings as I listened)

First the cover art. I’m not super in love with it. I don’t like the straight up placement of the images next to each other, it’s not particularly creative or visually interesting. I don’t like that Elena is smaller than Ricky and Michael and seems to be squeezed in between the two and above the title. I do like how symmetrical the design is and the dusty yellow tint of the image. This is the cardboard sleeve the case rests inside. The cover on the actual CD booklet is nicer, in my opinion. It’s a simple image of what looks to be a poster painting of Eva which would have been used on someone’s homemade banner. Not exactly this, but similar.

The recording opens abruptly with the announcement of Eva’s death. It’s the only recording I know of to do this, the Original Broadway Cast Recording opening with the “Requiem” music, same for the Highlights recording with Florence Lacey. The only other recordings I’ve heard which include this announcement (The film soundtrack with Madonna and UK Tour Cast with Caren Lyn Manuel) open with the sound effects of a cinema which are interrupted by the announcement. I kind of like it. It’s stark and instantly catches your attention and sets a tone for the experience. The cast singing for Eva is good, but I guess any cast recording is going to sound sparse to me in comparison to the fullness of the movie’s chorus which I just love.

“Oh What a Circus” starts up and Ricky is doing well. It’s less exciting than former versions, including Antonio Banderas’ performance in the film, but this has more to do with the tempo seeming slowed slightly than Ricky’s performance. I really like the orchestrations though.

Max von Essen sounds good in “On this Night of a Thousand Stars”. I think I was hoping for a little more but maybe I’m just not a fan of tango singing. I know he said he did his research and is trying to bring as much as he can to do justice to the real Augustin Magaldi so many kudos to him. Ooh, I like the way Ricky sang “Why don’t you be the man who discovered her?” It sounded like there was a period after each word and had a little funk to it. Elena has such fire in this song, I love it.

Elena owns “Buenos Aires”. Always and forever. “Set me humming” sounds so fantastic when Elena sings it! Ooh, new lyrics for Che. So much more worthwhile than that random polo match he used to talk about. Oh no, there’s that polo match…well it seems to have a bit more context here at least. Ricky sounds thoroughly American while delivering these lines, though. Not in love with Elena’s final vowel there. “star qualitEEEEEE”

Charity Concert and I’d be Surprisingly Good for You: Finally got to hear Michael! So many rolled r’s. Not as comically overdone as Bob Gunton’s but they didn’t exactly sound natural. He and Elena sounded great together though, love their dialogue.

Rachel Potter’s voice is beautiful in “Another Suitcase in Another Hall”, but I’ve always felt the role of the mistress is overrated. She doesn’t affect the plot really at all and while it’s nice (from a production’s standpoint) to have a female cast member besides Eva have a song (no others do) I prefer the movie’s decision to give this song to Eva. I frankly don’t care about this girl and since she’s never heard from again I feel it makes this song something of a throwaway in terms of relevance.

Peron’s Latest Flame: I don’t like the lack of space between the men’s insults and declarations of “Dangerous jade!” Still love this song though.

Rainbow High: One of my favorite songs! Elena’s uniqueness continues to shine in this song. Feh, there’s that diction on “quality” again. I may not get used to it.

Rainbow Tour: I think I’d prefer it if Michael weren’t putting on an accent. I know I’ve been whining about Ricky sounding so American but I may actually prefer that to Michael’s dialect. Speaking of, Ricky sounds great here. This might be my favorite song of his.

I’m so glad “You Must Love Me” is included! I always loved it in the movie and I think the love between Juan and Eva may have been ignored in previous versions of the show. This song solidifies it. I’ve seen interviews with people who knew the Perons and they commented that the love between them was real and visible so I feel it’s important to show it, rather than presenting their marriage as a business contract (though there was certainly an aspect of that).

Overall I’m happy with this cast recording. While I can see why many people are unhappy with Elena’s voice I love it. There are parts where I prefer other women in the role but overall I really love her on this recording. Ricky Martin and Michael Cerveris do very well but I don’t really love either of them. The changes are interesting and I like them for the most part. I may not feel this way had I been a lifelong fan of either the original Broadway or London cast recordings, however, so my opinion must be taken as one who was first in love with the movie for years before investigating the show.