…unless your high-profile celebrity cast member is leaving. Then the show apparently can’t go on. Nope, not at all, not even possibly. At least this is what I seem to be hearing from the announcement that Broadway’s Evita revival will be closing when Ricky Martin, Elena Roger, and Michael Cerveris leave the show.
Despite earlier claims that the show would re-cast and continue on with new leads when its opening cast departed (you know, like ANY OTHER open-ended production) Evita‘s producers have decided that the show simply can’t be done with anyone else in the leads. According to producer Hal Luftig:
“Our extensive search for a new cast presented the significant challenges of not only replacing a high-caliber trio of stars but also synchronizing the schedules of potential replacements with that of the production,” said Mr. Luftig. “Despite going down the road with a variety of artists, the planets have simply not aligned for us to engage the right talent at the right time. Therefore, we have made the decision to end this incredible journey on a high note on January 26 with our original stars intact.”
Let’s take a look at that statement, shall we? “a variety of artists”, “the right talent at the right time”, etc. all says to me that they were looking for another celebrity to take on at least one of these roles. Believe me, there are no (or at least precious few) performers on Broadway who would or even could turn down the opportunity to lead a musical, especially one as well-known and loved as Evita, so it is doubtful that these are the “variety of artists” the producers have been looking at. There’s an implication here that no one could live up to the performances given by the original leads (whose reception was mixed at best) so sorry to all you Broadway actors who thought you were good enough to play these parts, including you understudies and standbys currently playing the parts in this very production, but you’re just not up to snuff.
I’m not buying it. I don’t believe that there is literally no one else in the whole pool of talent that makes up the New York theatre scene (or even overseas, let’s get some more Argentinians in this show!) who could lead this show, but for argument’s sake, let’s say that I do. Let’s say that I’m not insulted by the assertion that there’s no one out there as capable as these three performers and that the show really can’t be performed by anyone else and be of the same quality. Let’s say I believe that.
What’s the next bit of news in the article?
The show will launch a national tour in September of 2013 at the Providence Performing Arts Center.
Excuse me?? Was I not just told that no one could possibly carry on this show after its current leads leave? Now suddenly there are people who are going to be good enough to take it out on the road, but not good enough to lead it on Broadway? Yeah, that’s wonderful. Who cares about national tours anyway? Who believes that the paying audiences across the nation deserve to see a Broadway-quality performance? Certainly not this team of producers!
Yes, I know September 2013 is quite a long way off and perhaps these magical performers who can live up to the legend of Ricky Martin will have the planets in the proper alignment to lead the tour at that point in time, but I’m just not buying it. This is why so many theatre fans hate stunt-casting. It has this nasty tendency to make the celebrity the driving force behind a show rather than the story, music, full cast, or any other aspect that should be what make the show a success or flop. I know that Ricky is the main reason the show is selling so well, and I know the producers are worried about the show’s viability when he leaves, but I think it shows a saddening lack of faith in the production itself that the producers don’t think it can stand on its own and support itself without a celebrity gimmick to draw crowds. Yes, I know the press release gives credit to Elena Roger and Michael Cerveris as well, but let’s be honest: they’re not the names selling tickets and therefore not the ones the producers are concerned with losing. I know from a producer’s standpoint it’s mostly about the money but I just wish they had faith in their production of Evita and not just “Ricky Martin starring in Evita“.