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San Francisco by Richard Connema

American Musical Theatre of San Jose
Presents Evita

Also see Richard's review of The Mystery of Irma Vep


Webber and Rice's musical classic Evita is the American Musical Theatre of San Jose's second production of the season. The dramatic production boasts a fine cast of Broadway veterans in the lead roles. Ana Maria Andricain who starred in the 1999 National tour is superb in the role of Eva Person. She was last seen in the Broadway production of By Jeeves.

Larry Fuller, who was the original choreographer of Evita under Harold Prince, is the director/choreographer of this production and it certainly shows in the dancing. He has gone back to the original melodic score and has also scaled back the production. He does not rely on ponderous sets or a large cast to present his point. The set is stark black with an iron runway across the upper part of the stage. There is a large movie screen that comes down to show photos of the life of Eva Perón and the times in Argentina. The dance numbers, especially the long "Buenos Aires" number, and the precision drills of the soldiers and the upper class are brilliant. The story does not need retelling since most people know it is the story of Eva Perón, born poor and illegitimate who became the glamorous and controversial icon of South American politics.

The score still captivates me and hearing Ms. Andricain's bell clear voice in "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" gives me a thrill. This talented actress is vivacious as the young girl who wants to climb the ladder of success by any means. The actress transforms a loud and aggressive girl into a woman of great sophistication and power. She is phenomenal in the title role. Her last scenes when Evita is dying are beautifully acted.

Daniel C. Cooney has a strong voice for Ché. He gives an electrifying performance as the revolutionary narrator. He is outstanding in his duets "High Flying Adored" and the Waltz scene in the second act. Scott Blanks as Peron has a powerful voice and he successfully adds an amount of uncertainty to his performance as the president/dictator of Argentina.

Bay Area's Lianne Marie Dobbs is able to showcase her stunning vocal talents in "Another Suitcase in Another Hall." Scott Hayward is an asset as the tango singer Magaldi. Mr. Fuller gives a smooth ride and maintains a dramatic crispness from the opening to the closing. He doesn't rush through the scenes. The orchestra under Barbara Day Turner gives the cast a solid musical score.

Evita runs through February 3, 2002 at the San Jose Performing Arts Center. Call (408)277-3900 for tickets, times and performances or visit www.amtsj.org.


Cheers - and be sure to check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area


- Richard Connema



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