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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Evita

Evita
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Directed by Paul Castaneda
Starring Victoria Sol Del Agua, Brandon Munoz-Dominguez, and Freddy Ruiz
Valencia State College
Orlando, FL

Even by musical theater standards, Juan Peron (Munoz-Dominguez) gets off easy tonight. Of course, he doesn’t get all the hits, either, so it looks like a wash for him. His wife Eva (Del Agua) emerges from the countryside, and sings her way quickly to the top. Peron was a milder form of the South American dictator, and I attribute that to the raw charisma of Eva. She finds her way to the big city (“On This Night of a Thousand Stars”) and quickly sleeps her way into Peron’s life. A good bit of negotiation is called for (“The Art of the Possible;” “I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You”) but in the end Eva becomes the face of the regime, and whatever good or bad occurred in her short life it was always overshadowed by her popularity. Che (presumably Guevara) (Ruiz) comments on the action and often presents an alternate take on the scenes but ultimately, he’s only as effective as a commentator, and no one on stage takes cues from him.

Here we have a big musical in a big space with some big voices. Director Castaneda takes advantage of the pair of follow spots, an industrial strength fog machine and a well selected cast to bring Eva’s oversized persona down to a real, loveable size. While Mr. Munoz is often stiff and a bit hulking, he feels very vulnerable as a dictator. Ms. Del Agua has the voice for the high notes although the sound mix could stand a little more bass. It’s Mr. Ruiz’s Revolutionary commentator that holds your eye; he’s skeptical of the entire revolution but offers no practical alternative. The set is simple but effective, lights and projects pop the flats into your lap as the chorus specializes in fast changes, energetic dances and solid specialty roles. This is how to run a revolution.

For more information on Valencia College Theater please visit http:// http://valenciacollege.edu/artsandentertainment/Theater/schedule.cfm/

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