I had mixed feelings as I sat in the Marquis Theatre on West 46th Street watching the revival of “Evita.” I was excited, because I think “Evita” is a spectacular musical featuring some very powerful work by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
I absolutely loved the energy and approach that Ricky Martin took to his role as Che, the narrator of the musical. I was captivated by Michael Cerveris’ phenomenal voice as he played Peron, and I adored the choreography of Rob Ashford, along with the fantastic direction of Michael Grandage.
However, sadly, there is a “but,” which comes in the casting of Elena Roger in the lead role of Eva. Her singing voice did not meet the task at all.
Roger reminded me of an annoying cartoon character. Her voice was neither pleasant nor at times understandable for several of the opening songs, and as the musical went on, listening to her simply took the smile from my face.
I was enjoying Martin’s and Cerveris’ performances, along with those of the other cast members, but Roger was often a low point. As the musical continued, I was able to tolerate her voice only because I wanted to hear the performances of the rest of the company.
Martin was definitely lively, funny and charming as Che. Cerveris had a very commanding voice and played Peron as a character who was strong but also very tender and had a great deal of love for his wife.
Learning of the political struggles of the people of Argentina during the period between 1934-1952 through the dramatic and engaging lyrics and music of Rice and Webber is very entertaining, but someone truly needs to revisit the casting of the lead role.