It’s Double Take December at Musical Cyberspace! Every musical pretty much has something one likes and something one doesn’t in it. This month I’ll be listing one of each for a range of musicals, a different one each day.
Something I Like: I love how the show treats Eva Peron as, in Tim Rice’s words, “a fabulous bitch”. Duality is huge part of who she was. Even today, her reputation is obscured by the conflicting perspectives held of her by different groups of people. Add a rocking score – albeit one with some odd uses of motif – to that and you’ve got a winner of a show, one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best. Oh – and, from a performer’s perspective, it’s a great show in which to be in the ensemble. There is so much to do!
Something I Don’t Like: I’ve never much liked the “Montage” at the end of the show. I’ve always wondered whether it’s a satisfying choice dramatically. It certainly can be staged effectively as as a kind of coup de théâtre, as it was conceived in Hal Prince’s original production, and be theatrically satisfying – but that’s a slightly different thing. The film dispensed with it and – despite a number of other major flaws – did not feel incomplete without it. To me, the piece is merely a shortcut between Eva’s collapse and the “Lament”.
Feel free to share your “double take” on Evita in the comment box!
Oh, one of my favorite shows.
Something I like about Evita: I think the score is incredibly inventive. When I think about the greatest Broadway songs, most of them are about love. The best songs in Evita are about politics, money, power, manipulation: I love “And the Money Kept Rolling In,” “High Flying, Adored,” “Waltz for Eva and Che,” “I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You,” and “A New Argentina,” none of which are particularly traditional, even “High Flying,” which kind of sounds like a basic 70’s Broadway tune, but isn’t at all. Plus the original cast was explosive, which may even be why I love the show so much: you can’t beat Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone right at the beginning of their careers, to say nothing of Bob “Warden Norton” Gunton and Mark Syers (can I just say, it blew my mind when I realized that Augustin Magaldi was also the Russian diplomat/the thief/the guy under the floor/Sailor #3 in the original Pacific Overtures). Oh, and I also loooove “Rainbow Tour” – “Ah, Señora Peron, it’s an easy mistake, I’m still called an admiral, yet I gave up the sea long ago!” 🙂
Something I don’t like about Evita: Very weird text-setting. When I was a kid I had this score memorized, I was so obsessed, and then later on I realized that actually, I had never been able to understand some of the lyrics. I knew by then how bad Patti's diction was (and Mandy's isn't always so hot either!), but when I started looking at the songs, I discovered that the lyrics and their settings really don't help the actors enunciate. I still don't know the words to the chorus of "Waltz for Eva and Che" – "There is evil…ever around…fundamental system of government quite incidental?" Actually, I guess I do, but what does that even mean? How about "There is no one, no one at all, never has been and never will be a lover, male or female, [wicked high belting here] who hasn't an eye on, in fact, they rely on tricks they can try on their partner! They're hoping their lover will help them or keep them, support them, promote them, don't blame them, you're the same!" Who sets a complicated text like that by having their leading lady belt at the top of her lungs? "Rainbow High" is similar, much as I love it. And "I wanna be a part of B.A., Buenos Aires, Big Apple!" Do you know how long it took me to know what she was saying there? Years. And the bit in "Oh, what a circus" when he sings "Sing, you fools, but you got it wrong" is completely impossible – "Show business kept us all alive from…something something something forty-five! But the star is gone, her something won't something, that's a pretty bad state for a state to be in." Oh well.
I really do love Evita. And Joseph. After that I could kind of take or leave Andrew Lloyd Webber shows (though they all kind of have their moments). This is fun! I can’t wait for the next one!