August 20, 2008

High Flying Adored


The poster outside Wells Fargo Pavilion






This past weekend I hightailed to the SF Bay area for 2 reasons to visit friends and see Evita at the Music Circus in Sacramento. I went to see it Saturday 8pm (8/16) with my friend Baba. Evita is my favorite among Andrew Lloyd Webber's work and I’ve seen 3 different productions of the show, including the Tour production , but so far this has been my favorite (no, I didn't see the original with Patti Lupone although I would love to go back in time to see it).

As I was booking my tickets I realized that the space where they have the show was a “theatre-in-the-round”, where the audience completely encircles the stage. I was trepidacious about it since I didn’t want to be looking at an actor's back throughout the show. However, the staging of this production was very dynamic thanks to director Glenn Casale. It had more of a concert feel. Not much scenery but some tables, chairs and beds moved around as props but it worked brilliantly! Every inch of the stage was utilized including the aisle where the actors would enter and exit. In no way did any part of the audience feel left out during the show because of the excellent staging.

Eric Kunze who had a commanding presence and beautiful voice played Che and served as the show’s narrator. You can tell that having appeared several times at Music Circus, the Sacramento audience loved him with the enthusiastic reception he gets after his songs. Scott Blanks played Peron while Kari Yancy played the mistress. Both were very good in their roles and had great voices. In fact even the ensemble was good!

The demanding role of Eva was played beautifully by Julia Murney. As in her other roles, she always surprises me with her acting choices. During the first act when she first sings her first few songs, I was wondering why she was holding back with her voice. Where was the fierceness? It wasn’t until middle of the act that I realized that she was playing the character slyly, deceptively and seductively. She couldn't show the fierceness right then and there. Eva was just working her way up into society……her Eva needed to be ambitious yet calculating and enticing (which she was). The way she sang the score perfectly matched with her characterization. She did however nail the difficult high notes in A New Argentina.

As the second act rolled in, Peron is now president and Eva is the power behind the man, sure enough, full on fierceness in her voice came out. Great character arc development! Rainbow High was thrilling! Other highlights for me were Buenos Aires and the Waltz of Eva and Che. It was nice to get to see her show off her dancing skills. The woman moves well and dances gracefully! Towards the end of the waltz (which looked like a graceful chess match between her and Che), when Eva shows the first signs of being ill, Che moves away and glides off stage leaving her alone center stage. She doubles over and collapses on her knees on the floor and begins to sing:

Oh what I'd give for a hundred years
But the physical interferes
Every day more, O my Creator
What is the good of the strongest heart
In a body that's falling apart?
A serious flaw, I hope You know that


It was sung in a tone of fragility…..a moment when this woman comes into the realization of her mortality. Very moving.

But before I forget I have to talk about High Flying Adored which surprisingly was my favorite. I believe it’s because she conveys more when she’s silent…….when she’s not singing. This song is mostly sung by Che and in the show they had an empty stage with just a vanity and a chair center stage. Eva, sitting and leaning forward looking at herself in the mirror while Che was in the perimeter observing. As Che begins to sing High Flying Adored, she slowly removes her jewelry, powders her arms and continues to study herself in the mirror. It was so simply staged but performed beautifully by Eric Kunze and Julia Murney. I thought it was very lovely.

Overall, wonderful production of the show! Perfectly casted. And to borrow Sir Lloyd Webber’s lyrics……no one else can fill it like SHE can.

Some pics:

Music Circus entrance (Fr. California Music Theatre)


Don't Cry For Me Argentina
(Fr. Playbill.com)


^ thanks T!

6 comments:

Tam said...

i love how she looked up toward heaven and said 'i hope you know that!' in an annoyed voice -g-

T

Pinky said...

^ agree that was a nice touch

bettie said...

Super write-up. Her singing is unparalleled, that we know. It was wonderful to see that she is such a dynamic actress. Her depiction of the Eva's progressive illness, yet still strong determination, was astounding. I could see that show over and over again! Bettie

Pinky said...

^^ I know Bettie, my friend who saw the show with me said it's a shame that it's only for a week. They should have a longer run.

Anonymous said...

Great review! But regarding the dancing, I thought she said she wasn't a dancer?

-Laura

Pinky said...

^^ Yeah Laura.....don't believe her when she says that in her interviews. There's a long dance break in Buenos Aires where she dances with the ensemble. It includes kicks and fast turns and she's really very graceful and a good dancer.

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