Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires
What makes the Downtown Cabaret Theatre's staging so outstanding is the fine casting of all the principal roles and its good-looking physical production. Leif Smith's scenic design is effective and atmospheric and Jessica Camarero has designed costumesespecially those worn by the leading ladythat are sensational. The striking lighting design by Phill Hill shapes the stage and the offstage band (led by expert musical director Clay Zambo) is terrific. Director Eli Newsom knows just how to take all these elements and form a memorable production of Evita.
Christy McIntosh has put her own stamp on the iconic role of Eva Perón. Her singing at the very beginning of the show is slightly pinched, as she enacts Eva as a young girl. But, by the roof-raising "Buenos Aires," she fully comes into her own vocally, delivering the exciting top notes in the first act finale "A New Argentina," and continuing with a stunning "Rainbow High." But McIntosh also knows how to add tenderness and warmth to her singing that makes "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" particularly moving and, in the final scenes, she is enormously touching, scaling back the voice a bit to show how frail Eva has become. What's more, she acts the role splendidly and looks dazzling in her succession of wigs and gowns. Christy McIntosh's Eva is really quite something to see and she isn't afraid to take chances in her performance. Brava!
As Che, Christian Cardozo is just as powerful, looking sexy and muscular in his tight fitting costume. He manages to stop the show with his crazy, thrilling high notes in "And the Money Kept Rolling In (and Out)" (this is also the number in which choreographer Emily Frangipane does her most memorable work with her dancers). The performers playing Eva and Che naturally dominate any production of Evita, but they also leave room for the other performers to make their mark.
Lance Anthony is a superb Juan Perón, partnering with Eva perfectly and lending a strong voice and presence to the show. Laura Carron shines as Perón's Mistress, making the most of her single number, "Another Suitcase in Another Hall," and Marcelo Calderon is suitably comical in the role of Magaldi and adds another fine singing voice to the production, as well. The enormous supporting cast is versatile and satisfying, as this fluidly staged Evita moves smoothly throughout.
It must be noted that this production of Evita has a slightly stronger first act than second act, but, overall, the staging is extremely accomplished and the strong performances make for quite an evening of theater. Downtown Cabaret Theatre's production of Evita dominates where it counts, in stellar performances by all the leads and the totally professional and evocative look of the show. This Evita is quite an achievement and is most definitely worth checking out.
Evita continues performances at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport, Connecticut, through April 2, 2016. For tickets, please visit www.dtcab.com or call the box office at 203-576-1636.