As the house lights dim, women in black veils weep as men carry a flower-adorned casket on stage. The actors break out into a solemn requiem for the death of their beloved first lady. The first few minutes of the rock-opera musical, Evita, begins with a funeral.
Directed by Paul Daigneault, Boston College Theatre Department put on a lively production of the classic musical that centers around the former first lady of Argentina, Eva Perón, and her rise to political power. Jessie Shaw, MCAS ‘19, embodies Eva Perón through her vibrant yet elegant presence on stage. The lead role demands a wide vocal range and Shaw diligently steps up to the challenge, exuding confidence in her radiant portrayal of the first lady.
The first act follows then Eva Duarte as a young teenager, who falls in love with a testy tango singer, Augustin Magaldi (played by Joe McCarthy, CSOM ‘17). She heads to the country’s capital of Buenos Aires to find fame and fortune as an actress; however, she later ditches Magaldi in favor of the Argentine general and politician, Juan Perón.
Che Guevara (loosely based on the Argentine revolutionary), narrates the story of Eva and is played by David Makransky, MCAS ‘17. Makransky portrays the narrator with a quirky mix of comedic relief and serious critique. Throughout the show, Che tries to unveil Eva as manipulative and self-interested, criticizing the glamorous persona she puts on and reminding her to actually help the poor working class, referred to as the descamisados (“the shirtless ones”).
For better or for worse, the characters’ symbiotic relationship provides an essential antagonism to the show. A final reconciliation occurs when they both come together in Act II’s “Waltz for Eva and Che.”
The smoothly sung “I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You” depicts Eva coolly pursuing Juan Perón, and convincing him that she can help him rise to presidential power. Simon Rogers, CSOM ‘17, captures Juan Perón’s assertive demeanor while also adding a tender touch to the role.
The scene is quickly followed by Eva getting rid of Perón’s mistress, played by Imogen Parry, who packs up her things and sings of her departure in “Another Suitcase, Another Hall.” Parry’s feathery melodic tone hit every note, achieving a graceful and moving rendition of the song.
Act II begins with the musically renowned song “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,” where Eva speaks to the citizens of Argentina from a balcony and pledges herself to the people, despite her initial preoccupation with fame and glamour. Shaw graciously ascends up the balcony like a delicate snowflake, decked in a sparkling white ball gown, and poignantly sings one of the most difficult songs in the show. She silenced the theater with this powerful representation of Eva’s transition from a fame-seeking actress to a passionate champion of the people.
The cast put on an energetic performance, particularly in “And the Money Kept Rolling In (And Out)” where Che sings about Eva’s disputed charity work and potential money laundering. The scene shows her handing out money to the poor working class and children while creaming some off the top for herself.
However, despite many controversies, Eva earns the name Santa Evita for her saint-like image in the public eye. She fights on behalf of the working class and disdains the upper class elites (who also harbor mutual feelings towards her). Unfortunately, her failing health causes her to step back from politics and renounce her campaign for vice presidency. She proclaims her love for the citizens of Argentina in her final public broadcast. The people walk through the outer aisles of the theater, holding candles in mourning of their unofficial leader, Eva Perón. The show ends the same way it begins—with a funeral for their beloved first lady, Evita.