Theatre Thursdays: The Show Must Go On…

…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.”

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Theatre Thursdays: Halloween-y Musicals

I think by now it’s pretty obvious that I love both Halloween and musicals. As such I have a few musicals that I like to watch or listen to around this time of year that I thought I’d share with all of you. Some of them are directly related to Halloween or horror while others just employ some of the themes of the season (and I’ll be honest, some are a bit of a stretch).

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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.

Theatre Thursdays: Evita 2012 Revival

I’m so excited for this revival:

^Footage from the West End where this production played in 2006 and found success with audiences and critics alike.

I think this is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best show and score and depending on your personal views on Webber this is either saying a lot or not much at all, but regardless I am so happy to see it being revived. As I mentioned, this revival played in London’s West End back in 2006 to very good reviews and I’m thrilled that it’s coming to Broadway with Elena Roger back in the title role.

She’s fantastic. I’ve only read positive reviews of her performance, and she’s one of the only (or perhaps even the only) Argentinean actresses to play Eva which is spectacular. I love Michael Cerveris; he played Sweeney in the 2006 revival of Sweeney Todd and scared the crap out of me. Ricky Martin, I can’t say I was ever a fan or that I know much about him but I’ve heard good things regarding his turn as Marius in Les Miserables back in the day, so I’ve got an open mind.

I’ve got to say though; I’m really torn about seeing the show. As much as I want to see Elena and know she’s a powerhouse, one of my favorite actresses, Christina DeCicco, is the alternate for the role and to finally get to see her on Broadway and in this glorious role…I don’t know if I can resist it. Eva is such an incredible part to play and I would just love to see Christina sink her teeth into the role.

Whether I end up seeing Elena or Christina (hopefully both, that’d be ideal) I know that I’ll be making my way to NYC sometime soon to see this show. I really think this score is phenomenal. It’s grand, moving, and lively and really Andrew Lloyd Webber is at his best when he’s doing rock music. The only score of his that I’ve heard and find as interesting as Evita‘s is that of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. Even The Phantom of the Opera, his greatest hit, has been called a rock opera masquerading as a classical musical and his most recent flop Love Never Dies received little praise for anything, but the one rock-out number tended to be looked on favorably in most reviews.

Before I go off on an ALW tangent (or worse, one about LND) I’ll wrap this up. This revival looks great. It’s one of my favorite scores for a musical and the principle cast looks to be brilliant in this production.