Sunday, 12 June 2011

The return of "Evita"

One of the greatest musicals of all time, Evita is returning to Broadway this spring. Evita, which was made into a movie starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas in 1996, was originally written by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice and premiered in the West End in 1978. It was taken over to Broadway a year later, where it starred Patti LuPone in the title role. It has been performed in countless amateur and professional productions across the world ever since and, to date, it is one of the most financially successful musical theatre productions in history.

In 2006, it was revived on Broadway with Argentinean singer and actress, Elena Roger, in the role of Evita and Elena is going to be returning to the role when the new, jazzed-up Evita returns to Broadway in spring 2012.  The pop singer Ricky Martin is apparently taking on the role of the show's narrator, Che. The 2006/2012 version is slightly different to the original in the 1970s in that, like the 1996 movie, thanks to new research into the real Evita over the last thirty years, it's slightly more sympathetic to its title character. Which works much better, I think. Plus, the new version has also had its score altered somewhat to include more South American musical influences.

For those of you who don't know the story, Evita is a rock opera based on the life and death of Eva Peron, the wife of Argentina's controversial president, Juan Peron, who ruled the country between 1945 and 1955. Born into poverty and abandoned by her father, Eva found work as a teenage model, before becoming a radio actress and a movie star. Tenaciously ambitious, she then fell in love with Colonel Peron, a prominent politician and figure in the army and she helped him when he ran for President in the elections of 1945. Many people credited his victory with his wife's celebrity.

As First Lady, Eva was nicknamed "Evita" by her husband's adoring followers, many of whom came from disadvantaged backgrounds like she had. Beautiful and glamorous, she toured Europe and became the leader of one of the largest charities in history. Throughout this, she was criticised by her husband's enemies as a social climber, who wanted money, fashion and fame much more than she wanted to help people. This view is recounted by the cynical Che, who hates Evita but becomes reluctantly fascinated by her. At the height of her fame, Evita contracts terminal cancer and when she dies in 1952, her funeral is attended by seven million people who hysterically mourn her death.

I'm really glad I'll be in New York to see it, because Evita is an absolutely fantastic show and below is the trailer for the original 2006 London version starring Elena Roger.

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